After writing Faith and developing integrity last week, I found myself thinking about where integrity actually comes from. I realized it begins internally, within our own soul. I thought about my promises to myself I had never kept, you know, “I will eat healthier, exercise more”… Ouch. I discovered my own lack of internal integrity. Sometimes it is hard to keep promises to yourself.
It is the Catch 22 that Paul wrote about in Romans 7:17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it, anyway. My decisions, such as they are don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong, deep within me and gets the better of me every time. Yes, how do we develop integrity despite our fleshly nature fighting for its way?
Paul goes on in verse 25: The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, bu tam pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (MSG) The answer is our dear Savior. I confess I messed up this week. Tired from grocery shopping, I went to return my cart. I must not have paid close enough attention as I put it away, because as I turned around, it went rolling out in the parking lot right toward a lady who was backing out of her parking spot. I ran to catch it, but it glanced off her car, startling her. This is where I really messed up. She thanked me for getting the cart and asked me, ‘Where did that come from?’ Instead of confessing, it’s my wayward cart, I looked around as if I didn’t know where it had come from! Talk about the lack of integrity. Even though there wasn’t a mark on her car, I still felt horrible for not owning up to the fact I had not put my cart back properly. Can I tell you why I did not just apologize? Not really. I am sure it was pride, fear and guilt that caused me to cover up my part. I feel ashamed of myself. Once again, I find myself in need of a Savior, and grateful I have one. Not only to forgive me of my sin, but to help me walk in honesty and integrity.
It was a split second reaction. I felt horrible immediately afterward. The accuser was there to say “and you just wrote about being a person of integrity”, shame on you. Yes, there was shame on me. I wish I could find her and apologize. It doesn’t matter that there have been other times when I have ‘done it right’, growing in integrity means you do it right. I am grateful for Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. I am sure I will have another opportunity to humble myself and walk in integrity and honesty. I pray my response will be more honorable. The challenges to walk in integrity are all around us.
Father, I ask you to help me and others to walk in your ways with integrity, honesty, and humility. I am so grateful I have not only a forgiving Savior, but one who also chastises and helps me overcome my weaknesses. We run to you and your throne this day to find your grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. In Jesus Name, Amen.