Pastor's Desk - Integrity

Mar 03, 2024


The Jamaica Baptist Union just completed its 174th General Assembly. It launched the theme that we will use for the next two years, “Keeping faith with the Word in an ever-changing world – pursuing Integrity”.

The President, Rev. Dr. Glenroy Lalor’s address to the Assembly and some special events mainly highlighted aspects of this theme. These are documented elsewhere so I won’t repeat them here, except to note a couple issues which we will seek to address on the theme during the year.

What is integrity?

Integrity means that if our private life was suddenly exposed, we’d have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. Integrity means our outward life is consistent with our inner convictions. Billy Graham. Essentially for me, integrity is honesty. It is honesty in all areas of life. Honesty in thought, in our relationship with God, in our relationship with ourselves and in our relationship with one another. I think some people have no problem understanding what integrity is, but great difficulty or even perhaps unwillingness to practice.

Honesty in relationship with God.

This is about living and being who God declares you are, and having accepted and confirmed whom God says you are. Part of this identity is acknowledging that we reflect God’s image, which includes the capacity to worship, to be morally sensitive, to be compassionate and to be creative. This what it means to be created in the imago dei (image of God) 

Worship is not an option or imposition, it’s the natural response of a people who acknowledge and celebrate their Creator. As John puts it, whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, ...1Jn 4:20.

Honesty with ourselves

Integrity demands that we know ourselves and are true to who we are. It is undesirable that we try to be something or someone else, yet many of us do. We present a false image of ourselves as we often fear that if we present our true selves with our weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and imperfections, we will be rejected. Although we are all created in the image of God, people
accept those who are perceived to be strong, powerful, flawless, and popular. (By the way these were some of Jesus’ temptations Matt. 4:1-11). David the King could not allow anyone to believe that as King, he was not powerful and just. He would not have wanted anyone to know he was deceptive, dishonest, and unjust, until God through the prophet Nathan exposed who
he really was (2 Sam. 12:7-14). How difficult life must be when we try to do this, acting in so many different settings to be accepted and approved by others. Being honest with ourselves is to be consistent in what we believe and how we behave. Journeying with integrity will help relieve the burden of wearing masks to be accepted by others.

Honesty with others.

We often see others as allies or enemies, strangers or friends, threats, or supporters. Further, we tend to be honest with those we see as allies, with those we perceive will not hurt us, or with those we feel pose no threat to our wellbeing. It would seem safe to say that honesty has to do with trust. We see the example of a child lying to her parent to avoid punishment, or an adult lying about his income tax returns to avoid penalties, or about her health to avoid jury duty, or why he did not attend church to avoid being criticized or judged. 

Lack of integrity led to Adam and Eve being kicked out of the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:13-24), Saul was rejected by God (1Sam. 13:14), and Annanias and Saphira died in front of the church leaders and members (Acts 5:1-11). As Billy Graham says, Integrity means we are trustworthy and dependable, and our character is above reproach.

Consider this question. What qualities in employees irritate bosses the most? Burke Marketing Research asked executives in 100 of the nation's (US) 1000 largest companies. At the top of the list was dishonesty. Marc Silbert, whose temporary employee firm commissioned the study, says, "If a company believes that an employee lacks integrity, all positive qualities ranging from skill and experience to productivity and intelligence become meaningless. What does the church think?

How then can we pursue integrity in our lives as believers? Living with integrity is not an option for the child of God nor for our neighbour who may not know the Lord personally as we do. But let us remember that when we live with integrity, we are honest with God, we are honest with ourselves, and we are honest with one another. May God grant us the wisdom courage and emotionally healthy spirituality to live with integrity.

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