Last week we talked about living a life assuming that transformation could be a possibility for any and all persons; especially you. This means taking seriously the profound reality of being a new creature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Today I want to write just a few words about living a life of integrity. Now, the idea I have in mind is much more than simply “not lying” as stated in the 9th Commandment. Rather, when I say integrity, I mean we should be people who reveal our true transformed self to the world. Now you see the importance of value #1 being ranked above this one. You can not be a person of integrity until after you have been transformed.
But this is so hard to do in our society, especially the one here at IWU. Take for example our dating culture. First you talk; revealing only your best attributes. Then you may go out in a group, seeing how this person interacts with others. Then, maybe it will be time for coffee alone in McConn. You have to do it this way because if you really lived a transparent life, folks would run away screaming, “TMI.” But I’m not talking about spilling your guts but rather about being an authentic person. I’m never satisfied in a relationship when I walk away wondering, “Were they being honest with me or did they simply tell me what I wanted to hear?”
Let me try to shape my thoughts using a biblical principle. One of the graces of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2) is to reverse the curse of Babel (Gen 11). If you recall, it was at Babel that people were trying to build a tower to heaven and “make a name for themselves” (Gen 11:4). God’s response was swift, their language was confused “so they will not understand each other” (Gen 11:7). But on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes to opens our mouths and ears so the act of speaking and listening becomes a redeeming event. Conversation can move beyond the surface level chit-chat and be transformed into the realm of integrity.
In the end our language; every noun and each verb; becomes a lasting legacy of grace to one another. Think of it this way; a person of integrity and transparency has only one vocabulary. Thus, the language you use to speak to a friend should be the very same language you use to speak to God in prayer. And since God is present in all our conversations, a person of integrity speaks truth at all times and in all places. Integrity; a language which reveals "God in us."
May we seek You to find transformation.
May we then seek to use speech which reveals Your work in our lives.
May Babel become a history lesson with no present reality.
May we discover language which elevates our conversations to a whole new level.
May integrity of heart flow from our lips.
Now, Go with God.
My value list reads as follows (though always in a state of fine-tuning):
- Transformation: I believe in the power of a transformed life. I will never forget where I have come from (a sinner saved by grace), but I will not allow my past to prevent Christ from fully reshaping His image within me.
- Integrity: I will display before all people my transparent self. I will not worry about what I cannot control; I will work on what I can control; first and foremost myself.
- Home: I will make home a non-negotiable priority; I will succeed at home first.
- Relationships: I will love the Lord our God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. My “neighborhood” begins with my wife and children. It then extends to my current place of ministry, Indiana Wesleyan University and to my local church, College Wesleyan Church. It then expands as I seek to live in love and harmony with the rest of the world.
- Ministry: I will pursue personal holiness for the purpose of building up the Body corporately and enhancing the spiritual life of others personally.
- Spiritual Disciplines: I will be a man of “one book” but constantly search for truth as revealed throughout God’s creation and by His children. I will seek divine guidance in everything and walk in the Spirit continually.
- Decisions: I will not live a life of regrets; I will risk a more comfortable life for the hope of living a more full life. The easy road is a poor teacher. I will not fear failure; I will apply creative responses to those failures.
- Finances: The funds and material possessions of life are just “things.” I will not allow their pull to be a chief decision maker in my life. Moreover, God is the ultimate owner, I am merely His caretaker.