Hal Brady

Hal Brady

It counts: you can mark it down! What am I referring to? I’m speaking of integrity or character.

There’s a story in Genesis, chapter 20, that points out the absolute criticalness of our integrity. It was King Abimelech’s integrity and only his integrity that saved his life.

As you may recall, Abraham and Sarah had lied to the King about Sarah’s identity as a married women. They had passed each other off as brother and sister for fear of their lives. The result was that King Abimelech takes Sarah into his household.

However, when God threatened to kill the King if he committed adultery, the King began to plead his case as not knowing about Sarah’s marital status. God knew the King was telling the truth, honored his integrity and spared his life.

The point is that integrity is serious business. A lack of integrity would have cost King Abimelech’s life. I simply cannot over emphasize the importance of integrity or character.

Integrity or character is being who your dog thinks you are. If we are decent and trustworthy, our dog will love us, be loyal to us, trust and always be our friend.

As I mentioned, integrity is serious business. One reason is because we see the glaring results when integrity is absent or compromised-business corruption, cheating and stealing, failed relationships, political dishonesty and hypocrisy, massive crime, leadership irresponsibility, half-truths and other.

Every single day adds to the importance of this word “integrity.”

Integrity means wholeness, soundness, honesty, consistency, character.

Now, I want to spend the rest of this article pointing out several other reasons why a comprised character is a bad thing.

First, guilt! The moment we knowingly compromise our integrity or character a change takes place deep within us. We become gripped with a horrible sense of unworthiness and uneasiness. We even feel separated from God.

Second, secrets will be found out! To be sure, it’s an awful moment when the first necessity of hiding something occurs.

A young father came to see me a number of years ago. He complained that he was losing his interest in religion and the church. He said he just didn’t care about it anymore. He had two little daughters, and he asked me if I had any words for him.

I continued to counsel with this man and about 30 minutes later he reluctantly admitted he was involved in an extramarital affair. I still remember his sorrowful remorse when his secret was exposed.

The late Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, noted New York minister, said, “Put that day off (meaning a secret exposed), as long as possible. Put it off forever if you can.”

Third, trust is lost! Across the years of my ministry, I have counseled with a number of people. When marriage counseling, I usually began by asking about the situation. How many times have I heard one of the spouses say, “I just can’t trust him or her anymore.” That would be followed by some acknowledgment of an indiscretion.

“I can’t trust him or her anymore.” Sad words, indeed! And they don’t just apply to marriage.

Fourth, compromised integrity means that the blessing of God is withheld! A holy God is not going to bless unrighteousness living.

Dr. David Jeremiah, well known California minister and author, expressed it this way:

“When we cut moral corners, there’s always one person who knows the truth-the person looking back at us in the mirror every morning. Sure we can lie to ourselves, rationalize, make excuses, or deny. But when we do, what we’re really denying and running away from is the truth of who God is...Lying to ourselves may let us justify what we’ve done, but it never fools God.”

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The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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