St. Augustine wrote in Augustine Confessions:
"Thus they hate the truth for the sake of that other thing which they love because they take it for truth. They love truth when it enlightens them, they hate truth when it accuses them. Because they do not wish to be deceived and do wish to deceive, they love truth when it reveals itself, and hate it when it reveals them."
We like genuineness when it suits or helps us, but not so much when it exposes us or shows our wrong motives or conduct. Perhaps that is why there is a Jewish parable that says, “Truth is heavy, so few men carry it.”
Have you ever wondered, What do I have to do to live a stable life, to not be twisted with every fierce wind of opposition or pulled from what is right to what is ultimately degrading? How can I have the kind of healthy fellowship with God that will bring joy and fulfillment?
Psalm 101 is a terrific passage for leaders. King David essentially makes a vow of integrity and we get a clear view into what he saw as important as a leader.
First, David commits to worship. “I will sing of faithful love and justice; I will sing praise to You, LORD.” (vs. 1) As leaders when we put God first, we walk in the right direction. Worship sets the foundation for integrity. It is pretty hard to sin when we are in worship!
Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, wrote a New York Times Bestseller entitled The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. I listened to Dan speak at a conference for senior leaders at West Point, NY and was fascinated by what he shared. He made a powerful case for how common cheating and lying is in our society and throughout the world.
Dr. Jerry White shares an insightful story in his book Rules To Live By. A young lieutenant forgot to wear his tie with his dress uniform on the day he had to brief a general. Not having enough time to return home, he buttoned up his raincoat and wore it into the meeting. When the general asked him why he was wearing his raincoat, the young man admitted he’d forgotten to wear his tie. So, the general told him to take off his raincoat and then he asked everyone present for the meeting to remove their neckties.
Jerry White, Rules to Live By, Colorado Springs: NavPress, ©2010, ps 112,113
In reading through the Bible in 2009, my selected theme was truth. Earlier this week, Chris primed our pumps asking us what truth is. I am going to finish off the year sharing what I learned from this vital Biblical topic hoping that it encourages and challenges you as much as it did me.
Psalm 85:11—Truth will spring up from the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven.
Raul lives in Chinandega, Nicaragua and serves with our First Cause team by translating Reverations into Spanish. Recently Raul* lost his job yet needed funds to help pay his school tuition and for a training conference with Timothy Academy in Honduras. I wired Raul money based on the bank instructions he gave me. But when he went to the bank they said no funds had arrived. For three weeks this went on—each time Raul went to the bank they reported no money. Yet on my end I had a receipt showing $146 was wired. Raul believed me and I believed Dolex Dollar Express and we both trusted God but Raul had no funds.
Seeking favor is something we all understand. Those of us who work want to be well regarded by our boss or supervisor. Those of us who are children want the approval of our parents. Those of us with relationships want the support of our spouse, friends or peers. Everyone who cares desires favor. And the greatest favor we can obtain is from God. The question is how do we gain it?
Bob Wieland lost his legs to a mortar round in the Vietnam War. But that didn't stop the 57-year-old veteran from finishing the Los Angeles Marathon. Using only his hands and on less than twelve hours of sleep, it took Bob a week to complete the 26.2-mile course. Surrounded at the finish by well-wishers and admirers, Wieland said, "This was not natural. This was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God."
For nine years I’ve led an adult coed soccer league in the city of Tigard. This is the second year we have run the league without referees. The first season we tried it there were complaints and it was a rocky transition. It was clear that some players preferred refs because they could cheat. They could bend the rules to their advantage. If the official didn’t see the infraction, then that was part of the game.
Johann* works for Bernard Haldane Associates. As I sat down in his office he said to me, “During the five years I have worked with this company I have interviewed thirty-four pastors. Thirty-three of them missed appointments, were late, or lied when giving information. Only one was a man of integrity.” He looked me over as if to say, are you any different. If he meant to get my attention, he succeeded. For the rest of the day I pondered his opening statement and grieved.
Across the table sat a man of large girth and hostile demeanor—one who formerly had served as his platoon sergeant. This noncommissioned officer faced legal charges that if successful, would eject him from the army dishonorably. He had been caught stealing equipment from his own soldiers, lying and shirking his duties. Now, less than a year later, enough charges had accumulated to bring him to trial.
It was in part what the President wouldn’t say that disturbed a nation. Liberty lowered her torch and sat on her pedestal of stone weeping from the bitter blow his pride struck. She cried because he lied. She sobbed because he robbed—he stole the trust of a nation to enjoy forbidden pleasures. Tomorrow she will rise and light her torch. But it will not burn as bright. Around her base swirls water blackened with the slick oil of deceit. It’s mixture runs downstream leaching through soil at an alarming rate. Her children are poisoned by this hazardous waste of rationalization that dares to call evil good and good evil.
No one likes to be manipulated. An individual may express an outward message that is incongruent with an inner motive. Once I placed a large order of cassettes for a music project I was working on. The sales person assured me of the solid reputation of this “Christian” company. He did not tell me the company was deeply in debt and about to declare bankruptcy. His motive might have been to help the company pull in more business. Because he withheld information, I made a purchase decision which resulted in losing my money and not receiving the products I’d paid for.
Have you noticed how desperately our society yearns for good moral role models? Yogi Berra, the master of chaotic one-liners once quipped, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” God says in Leviticus 11:44, “Be holy, because I am holy.” In other words, “Be like Me.” Virtue doesn’t come easily it takes effort. Just ask the employee whose integrity is tested by the boss who wants to cut corners. Often our virtue is measured by our words. Either we strive to be honest or we become masters of “spin” slighting altering the picture to our benefit. If we were born holy virtue would come easily. Instead we strive to overcome a nature that at its core is selfishly wired. By following the example Jesus set for us on earth, we allow God the privilege of making us new creations! Take courage, your character matters!