Integrity is a rare and precious quality in the world today. You don't have to look very far into politics and the business world to find leaders who lack basic integrity, who are even downright crooked. Even among Christians there are people who bring shame to the cause of Christ because of their words and actions. People are tempted to cheat and cut corners, they're rude or bigoted, because they think everybody is doing it, so it must be okay.
Coach Tony Dungy writes, "Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; its doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage." Those are very similar to the words of the wise man in Proverbs 11:3, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Eventually our deeds will find us out. That means if we want to have a reputation for integrity, we've got to practice integrity all the time, in public and in private.
In worship this Sunday we will learn about the importance of integrity. My sermon title is "Integrity on Display," based on Acts 24 where Paul is put on trial before Felix, the Roman governor of Palestine. All the evidence points to Paul's integrity in his life and ministry, even though we won't find the word "integrity" mentioned anywhere in chapter 24. Imagine the damage Paul would have done to the early church and to himself if he had ever acted without integrity.
We are Christ's witnesses and ambassadors in the world. Everything we say or do impacts our message. If we live with integrity, seeking to honor God and following his directions for our lives, our message is enhanced and has power. If we lack integrity our witness is destroyed and the cause of Christ suffers. It is essential that we, as followers of Christ, live with integrity.
I want to invite you to come worship with us at First Baptist Riverside this Sunday where we'll learn about how to live a life with "Integrity on Display." Our traditional worship service is at 9:00 a.m. and our contemporary worship service is at 10:45 a.m.