Google says that integrity is, "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness." Growing up the common definition I heard for integrity was "Integrity is who you are when no one is looking."
My question for you this week is:
Are you saved when you're alone? When (you think) no one is watching, is your salvation evident? When only God can hear your thoughts, is He pleased?
Are you saved, saved?
Like saved in real life?
It's great that people think you're nice, but is God content with the state of your heart?
These are the questions I started asking myself after Sunday morning worship last Sunday. I was on my way home, reflecting on the sermon and these two scriptures started to worm their way into my thoughts.
Matthew 12: 34, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life"
Thinking about these scriptures prompted me to look up this reference scripture, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." Luke 6:45
It's great when people can see me and the good I may do, but when no one is around, am I still doing good? If no one is there to see me give the person who dropped their $10 in front of me back, will it matter if I don't?
We have to understand that we are what we practice, first in our hearts and then in our actions. We won't do what isn't in us to do.
Have you ever played out a scenario in your head before it happened? Or practiced an argument you would have with someone? This is how we condition ourselves to reply to stimuli in our lives, right? So if we say we're an honest person, we have to ask ourselves, what does honest look like? How do I practice honesty? Am I honest? If we say that we are kind, we have to ask ourselves, what does kind look like? Am I kind?
I have to be honest, sometimes when I look at how I want to be perceived and what my actions are I realize that they don't always align. So then I go to God in prayer and ask Him to more closely align myself with who He wants me to be.
For example, someone who I hold dear recently told me that I could be mean and instead of becoming defensive, I reflected on my actions. Even if I don't think I'm being mean, I have to be objective enough to be able to look at my behaviors and see how others may view them. And guess what? I was being mean! So what did I do? I asked God to forgive me for being mean, and began to correct the behavior.
Learning things about yourself that don't line up with God's character doesn't make you any less of a Christian. When we get saved we don't automatically become squeaky clean humans that never do wrong ever. Neither does it mean that we are given permission to remain who we were, but only now with God's blessing.
We come to God because we know that there are pieces of our lives that we need God's love for and as God loves us, our hearts should be transforming into something more like His.
It's like when you hang out with your best friend all the time and you start to pick up some of their mannerisms or catch phrases. Or when you are with your significant other so often you start to adopt some of their habits. In our deepening of our relationship with God, we should begin to look, act, talk, think more like Him. In this way, changing our hearts, so that we can reflect those attributes that both we desire to be and God requires of us.
This is not an outside in work, it's an inside out work. We won't be able to sustain any behaviors that haven't first taken root in our hearts.
So as you go through this week, really ask yourself if you are who you say you are, and adjust accordingly.