How to Respond When Your Integrity is Questioned
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2018 10 Oct
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am so frustrated and confused. I went to work and my own integrity as an accountant has been questioned. I know that I have been honest and above board in all of my business dealings. So what do I do when my integrity is questioned?
It’s tough to have you integrity questioned. In 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 Paul’s integrity is on the line.
It seems that a very trivial thing had happened to Paul. He planned to return to Corinth for a second visit (1:15-16). But Paul's concern to get to Jerusalem was so irresistible that he bypassed Corinth and left them out.
Some began to question Paul’s integrity: "After all, if he cannot be trusted to keep his appointments, how can we ever trust his ministry?" "If we cannot trust Paul to keep his promise, how can we trust the things he told us about God?”
If it can happen to Paul, it can happen to anyone. So he explained his side of the story.
What is the definition of integrity?
“Strict personal honesty; complete; unity; from integer, whole.”
Integrity has to do with wholeness. All the pieces are on display. Nothing is missing or hidden.
Some say, “Character doesn’t matter. Only perception matters.” That is not the case. Look at Paul again.
Paul’s conscience is clear. He shares four lifestyle markers he has built into his life that validate integrity.
Paul writes: “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12 ESV)
What are the characteristics of integrity according to Scripture?
1. Holiness: No hidden impurities
In Ephesians 5:25, Paul describes Christ’s picture of how a husband should treat a wife:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (ESV)
Christ wanted a chaste, pure bride.
2. Sincerity: no hidden motives
Let me illustrate. Roman vases were stamped “sine cera,” meaning “without wax.” The potters assured their customers that there were no cracks in the pottery that had been concealed by wax.
3. Truthfulness: no hidden meanings
Read 2 Corinthians 1:13, 18-20.
There were those who said that Paul in his letter did not quite mean what he said. Paul's answer was that there were no hidden meanings in his words.
Remember Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?
"… Then you should say what you mean," The March Hare said.
"I do," Alice hastily replied, "at least - at least I mean what I say - that's the same thing, you know."
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter.
We have a society that uses words to lead, deceive, confuse, and cover.
4. Love: not apathy
“For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4 ESV)
Do you wonder why Paul did not just walk away? These critical converts seemed to be more trouble than they were worth. Plenty of people in the Mediterranean world who would accept and appreciate what Paul was doing. But, people of integrity have love built into their nature.
A case came before the courts in Massachusetts back in the late 1920s. A man was walking along a pier when suddenly he tripped over a rope and fell into the cold, deep waters of the ocean bay. He came up sputtering, screaming for help, then sank. His friends heard his faint cries in the distance, but they were too far away to rescue him. But only a few yards away was a young man lounging on a deck chair, sunbathing. Not only could he hear the drowning man plead, "Help, I can't swim," the sunbather was also an excellent swimmer.
The tragedy is that the observer did nothing. He only turned his head to watch indifferently as the man finally sank and drowned.
The family of the victim was so upset by that display of extreme indifference, they sued the sunbather. The result? They lost the case. With extreme reluctance, the court ruled that the man on the dock had no legal responsibility to save the drowning man's life.
The essence of integrity involves getting involved in the lives of others. That is love.
It takes time and consistency to build up integrity with people. You need to build up a track record, just like you need to build up good credit by paying your bills.
And the four things we must work on are holiness, sincerity, truthfulness, and love.
They are the best defense we have when our integrity called into question.
Every trusting relationship is built up with holiness, sincerity, truthfulness, and love.
A consistent life, lived over time—that includes holiness, sincerity, truthfulness, and love—validates a life of integrity. And a life of integrity reflects the character of Christ.
I hope this helps!
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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