Why Does Integrity Matter So Much in Our Walks with God?
- Mary Southerland Journey Ministry, Inc
- 2021 24 Mar
For the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought (1 Chronicles 28:9b).
I have several roles in life. I am a wife, a mother, an author, a speaker … the list goes on. But being Mimi to our six grandchildren hovers around the top of that list.
So, when the phone rang, and I heard the sweet voice of our grandson Justus ask, “Mimi, can you and Papa come to my school for Grandparent’s Day?” I did not even have to look at my calendar. Whatever appointments I might have had could easily be moved in a heartbeat. “We would love to, buddy!” I replied.
When Dan and I arrived, Justus’ teacher, Mrs. Fox, greeted us and told us to look around. Since I taught elementary school for several years while Dan attended seminary, I was especially interested in scoping out the classroom to make sure she was doing a good job. She was.
And then it was time for games! Mrs. Fox divided the children into three groups. Justus and his group were playing Pin the Skull on the Skeleton. They had just completed a series of lessons on the skeletal system… and Justus is in Kindergarten!
Yep! She was certainly doing a great job.
As volunteer parents corralled the kids into two lines, Mrs. Fox came to stand beside me. “Aren’t they going to blindfold the kids?” I asked. Mrs. Fox smiled and said, “No. Some of the children really don’t like that, so we just tell them to close their eyes.”
“And I will tell you right now that Justus will be the only child in this room who will not peek.”
Even though Justus is only six years old, he is a strong believer with a solid faith. Justus has a pure heart and loves Jesus with all of that heart. Still … he is a child with so much to learn about what it really means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.
“Really? You think so?” I asked Mrs. Fox. She smiled and nodded. I mean, I know Justus is perfect, I just didn’t realize his teacher did as well. I loved her more and more!
We watched as each child was told to close his or her eyes. They were then spun in a circle three times, pointed toward the skeleton taped to the wall, and told to pin the head on the skeleton.
As child after child stumbled toward their goal, every single one of them opened their eyes at least once or did not even bother to close them all the way. They pinned the parts of the skeleton on almost the exact spot where they should be.
And then it was Justus’ turn.
Mrs. Fox nudged me and whispered, “Now watch this!”
The volunteer spun Justus in a circle three times, told him to close his eyes tightly, and sent him off in the direction of the waiting headless skeleton. I could tell Justus was dizzy as he began to veer away from the wall entirely. Shouts of direction from friends helped him get back on course.
When he was about two feet away from his goal, Justus suddenly stopped, and with a look of distress on his face said, “Mrs. Fox, I’m sorry! I really, really tried to keep my eyes closed, but they just now came open once.”
Wow! Just wow!
Mrs. Fox smiled at me and said, “Justus, because you were honest, you can have another turn.”
The relief on our grandson’s face was obvious. He got back in line and tried it again. This time he made it all the way to the wall where he proudly pinned the skull on the chalkboard… a good two feet away from the skeleton.
Integrity is a beautiful thing. And our six-year-old grandson had just schooled me on the subject.
I was undone because of the lack of integrity in my life. Oh, I can argue that there are some areas where I might pass the test of what the world calls integrity.
But… integrity is an all-or-nothing deal. It is a heart issue--a spiritual habit that decides beforehand to do the right thing.
Integrity matters to God.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
The word for “pure” means “ready for sacrifice.” In other words, the decisions and choices we make should be living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God as acts of worship.
To have integrity means to live an integrated life. That integration occurs when what we believe, what we think, what we say, and what we do are consistent. I truly believe that a life of integrity makes God smile.
When Justus opened his beautiful brown eyes and saw where he had pinned the skull, he did not even care. He turned to me, his face beaming. Our eyes met … and we both knew he had just made God smile. In other words, Justus had just led us in worship.
The LORD does what is right, and he loves justice, so honest people will see his face (Psalm 11:7, NCV).
Worship is a word we often use but something we rarely experience. Oh, we say we are going to a worship service each Sunday, but do we really encounter the living God? Or do we merely participate in another weekly religious gathering?
When was the last time you walked away from a worship service--eternally changed because God met you there? We misunderstand what true worship is and fail to recognize the requirements of that genuine worship.
A preacher, out for a walk, noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. “What are you doing, boys?” he asked.
“Telling lies,” one young man explained. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” The minister was shocked and said, “Why, when I was your age I never even thought about telling a lie.”
The boys looked at each other and their faces fell in disappointment. Finally, one young man shrugged and said, “I guess he wins the dog.”
To worship God means that we must come before Him with an honest heart. No, we cannot actually see His face, but we can understand who He is, recognize His power, and acknowledge His sovereignty. True worship takes place in an honest heart.
Honesty is a rapidly disappearing attribute.
Truth is hedged and masked. Integrity is compromised.
“Mom isn’t here” our children say when we want to avoid the caller.
We silently pocket the change that was counted incorrectly in the drive-through lane.
Untruths we label as “small white lies” punctuate our character until authenticity is forfeited.
Ouch! I know!
A life of integrity demands open-hearted honesty. So does worship.
Worship is all about seeking the face of God. Seeking God with our whole heart is the first step in experiencing authentic worship. We cannot truly seek Him until we are willing to come before Him in absolute abandonment… completely and totally honest before Him.
In the gospel of Luke, we find a woman who desperately wanted to worship God, so she came to dinner at the home of Simon Peter. This woman came for one reason alone; she heard Jesus would be there. It was common knowledge that this woman was a prostitute with a terrible reputation.
Everyone at the party--including Simon, the host--knew exactly who the sinful woman was and what she had done. Simon would never have allowed--much less invited this kind of woman to enter his home. He was embarrassed and angry.
It was also common knowledge that when a Rabbi was invited to someone’s house, others could stop by and listen to the conversation. The sinful woman was desperate. She came, knowing that everyone at the party would recognize her and judge her.
Don’t miss this truth! This woman’s desire to meet Jesus was greater than her pride.
She came openly--hiding nothing. She came just like she was, a sinful woman.
She came with an honest heart.
What was the response of Jesus? It is really important that we zero in on this part of the story. Jesus met her at the point of brutal honesty. As a matter of fact, He was waiting for her to come.
Jesus went to that party for several reasons.
He went to teach Simon Peter a lesson.
He went to share God’s truth with all who would be there.
He went--knowing this sinful woman would come, seeking His love and His forgiveness. He knew everything about her, and still He came.
God’s love does not depend upon what we do or don’t do. We cannot earn His love by doing good works. We cannot be good enough by attending church every time the doors are open, singing on the worship team, teaching a Bible study, or… the list of good things is endless.
God loves us for one reason alone. He. Is. Love.
Just like He waited for this sinful woman to show up at Simon Peter’s home, He is waiting for us to come to Him--with open hearts, empty hands, and humble spirits.
We will never experience the full power of true worship until we are ready to honestly confront and deal with the sin in our lives. An honest heart pleases God and is invited to worship Him.
Like this woman, I am weary. I am so tired of lugging around this absurd collection of masks I have spent so many years accumulating. I am no longer willing to waste energy trying to be someone God did not create me to be.
I really do want to be authentic--an honest woman. I want to become a woman that pleases God and makes Him smile.
Photo Credit: ©doidam10
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, Fit for Life, and 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.