Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Gift of Integrity

We don't often hear about integrity anymore. Perhaps out of laziness or busyness we've given up on the endeavor. Maybe greediness has gotten in the way. Or even worse, maybe we have grown to despise integrity or those who seek it. Whatever the reason, it seems our culture finds integrity to be either undesirable, unbelievable or unattainable, and therefore a mute topic of conversation.

The Bible doesn't.

God says integrity is most definitely desirable, absolutely attainable, and a vital part of the life He purposed for us.

There are immeasurable rewards received here on earth and stored up in heaven for those who walk in integrity. A most cherished gift is the assurance that our children will be blessed because we lived uprightly. "A righteous man who walks in integrity - How blessed are his sons after him." ( Proverbs 20:7) There is great testimony when our life backs up our speech. When the two are joined, our children see the Biblical principles living and breathing through us. Love is not just a concept discussed in Corinthians, but an act witnessed in mom and dad. Honor, truth, and discipline are all made real by the daily example of mom and dad, that is if we pursue it with all we have.

I believe my endeavor to live a life of integrity is part of “training a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) I am to teach him God’s word, yes. But I am also to show him God’s word in how I choose to honor the grocery clerk, in how I serve my neighbor, in how I resist laziness, and in how I offer forgiveness.

Recently two women in the Bible have peaked my interest, Lois and Eunice. In a letter to Timothy, Paul says “… I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). It is a quick reference, and from my search, the only mention of either woman. They are a grandmother and a mother who lived such lives of integrity that their offspring was blessed because of it, just like the Proverb says.

Sincerity of faith is judged by the way we live. While God can see the heart, man’s assessment is dependent on what he sees. Timothy didn’t merely hear God’s word, he saw it in action as he grew up. Lois and Eunice’s faith was proven real because they lived it. This makes me want to look at my own life. Am I a Lois or a Eunice to my own son?

I recently heard the saying, “We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are.” So true. It’s easy to speak the part, not as easy to live it. The lessons I teach Caleb are invalidated if I do not live them out myself. When I shy from an opportunity to share Christ or lose patience with my husband, Caleb is learning an unfortunate lesson. When I encourage a friend or seek God through prayer, Caleb is learning and prospering because of it.

I am not there yet. I see areas of my life where impulse takes precedence over wisdom, pride precedes humility, or self-control is abandoned. Praise God, He is still at work in me. He is patient beyond measure. His grace endures through the entire race. He is a fine teacher and I will learn well from Him.

What better gift could I give my son, than a mom whose words and actions point the way to Christ? What better gift could I give my Christ, than a life lived in sincere faith, in integrity?