HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND COURAGE
The dictionary defines honesty as the quality or characteristic of being fair, just, truthful and morally upright. The dictionary defines integrity as the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or standards.
Courage is defined as the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or deflected from a chosen course of action. If you look at these three character traits together, some aspects overlap.
Honesty and integrity cannot exist without each being present in a person of high moral character. Man was created in the image of God; therefore these characteristics must be present in a professing Christian. The Bible gives me the best picture of what these characteristic mean to God. Man cannot please God unless he (man) conforms to the will of God.
To be a person of honesty, integrity and courage- one must search The Word of God. The Bible says, “in The Word, there is life.” These characteristics are valued in most homes. Growing and developing these characteristics is a lifestyle, it is an ongoing process. We are constantly being reinforced that they are valuable in our Christian walk. In general, all people consider honesty vital in society. It goes further with a Christian.
As for courage, sometimes we need courage to be honest. Sometimes being honest will cost you. There are many who will not pay the price of being honest. It is true that we haven’t seen an abundance of people who hold honesty and integrity as valuable characteristics of late in our society. Honesty and integrity have been missing in our government officials, politicians, as well as, in the business world; Wall Street, is a good example. We have seen lack of honesty and integrity even in our churches. But The Word of God is infallible and the call for these character traits are expected from those who call themselves Christians. These traits are seen in “doers of The Word” and not hearers only. The best way to know these traits exist in us is for them to be seen in our daily walk.
If you look at the parable of the Sower of Seed found in Luke 8:5, you begin to understand that our heart and our motive for doing things is influenced by (Satan) the world and the cares of the world. This means ir is possible for our honesty to be compromised. It is possible for our integrity to be undermined, dashed or choked with the cares of riches and gain.
Beginning at verse eleven, the parable unfolds with The Word being “the seed.” Some of us hear and are given the opportunity to be honest but the devil gives us another proposition that suits our desires better. We go with the way of least resistance. This is a paraphrase of course but the essence of the truth is there.
The next verses go on to say that rocks, thorns, temptations and cares for pleasures and riches can cause us to compromise; this keeps some people from being honest and from having integrity. Look at verse fifteen. When The Word falls in “good” ground, we generate positive results.
(15)”but that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
This verse also alludes to steadfastness. It goes on to say that the honest and good heart will keep it.”
In the Book of Acts, you find the twelve disciples in need of more help with their ministry. They looked for specific characteristics in the men they wanted to help them in ministry; they did not want to be taken away from studying The Word. They wanted to have more time for praying. Here are the characteristics they sought in the men they wanted to appoint to help them.
“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”
Honest men are still being sought in the world and in ministry. You can see this need being expressed in II Corinthians.
II Cor. 8:21 reads, “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of The Lord but also in the sight of men.”
Respect for the truth embraces-Honesty. Think about what society would be like if we didn’t have men who loved honesty and integrity.
Hebrews 13:18 lets us us know that The Lord requires that we be willing to live honestly.
I Peter, the second chapter dwells exclusively with things pertaining to honesty by saying lay aside all malice, disobedience and having your conversation honest. It is the will of God for us to do this. God is glorified when we are honest. This chapter says ignorance of foolish men is put to silence, when honesty is present. We are servants of God. He (God) requires honesty but He never takes away our ability to choose not to be honest. We are asked to be people of honesty and integrity; we are not forced.
Think about the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve played the blame game with God. They chose not to be up front and honest with God. He (God) asked them about eating the fruit that had been forbidden to them. Adam and Eve chose to listen to the Serpent instead of obeying God.
Adam and Eve had some children. One of the children, namely Cain, chose to kill his brother. Instead of being up front about what he had done, which was a sinful act, he deceitfully poses a question of God. He says the following:
“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Cain arrogantly asked this question of God. Honesty has been an issue with man since the beginning. The Word tells us that the tongue is unruly and needs taming. You have to wonder how Cain could speak to God in this manner. He had killed his brother Abel and buried him. When you are dishonest, it seems everything goes out of balance. When you are not honest, you say and do anything to hide inferior motives. Some of us do a better job of this than others.
Abraham told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister and Sarah endorsed Abraham’s story, saying she was indeed his sister. Technically, they were sister and brother. They did not have the same mother. Abimelech however, did not touch (sexually) Sarah, even though she was a very beautiful woman. He was a man of integrity. God warned Abimelech in a dream. He knew that Abraham had not been completely candid with him.
We hear more about Job as a man of integrity. Job had integrity and he was steadfast. Job was even a man of courage. In the materialistic world in which we live, we can understand the devastation Job was subjected to. Satan was thrilled when God allowed him to have at Job. God knew the integrity and courage of Job’s heart better than Job himself. God allowed Job to discover himself and have a greater relationship with God.
“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait on thee.”
Job came to discover that the secret of The Lord is with them that fear Him.
We find out in The Book of Job that friends sometimes try to define whether we have integrity or not. It is easier to see fault in others than to see fault in oneself. A recent incident highlights this fact perfectly. When it was discovered that Tiger Woods was an adulterer, everyone was ready to discredit him. He was not only an adulterer, needing sexual addition classes, he was also a man who had lost his integrity also. America is full of men who are adulterers, just like Tiger Woods, but ‘stones were cast.’ It seems more was expected of Tiger Woods, even though he is a professed Buddhist and not a Christian. Integrity is expected in every area of our lives. People expect integrity from some people more than others. This is life.
Job lost material wealth, he lost loved ones, he lost the respect of his wife and he lost his health. His friends were not much help either. The steadfastness of going through the process of the challenges, Job came through in victory. I call him courageous. He did not curse God and die as his wife had suggested to him. He called her a “foolish woman.”
Psalm 26:1, it reads like this.
“Judge me O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in The Lord, therefore I shall not slide.”
“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
People who do not embrace the virtues of honesty and integrity always seem to think they can do so without consequence. Prominent men and women have tested the theory that they could get away with being dishonest or function forever without integrity, only to find out, they are uncovered. They discover they were not as clever as they perceived themselves to be. You reap what you sow-plus some.
There are more courageous people than you might imagine. Many courageous people do not make the news; no one is asking for their autograph. They are nonetheless, courageous. The Word of God has this picture of courage. This is the courage that is possible for each of us to exhibit. Courage such as was exhibited by Rahab, who is in the geneology of Jesus Christ.
When Joshua, the son of Nun, sent two men to secretly spy out Jericho, they met a harlot named Rehab, and lodged in her home. She lodged them on the roof of her house and hid them but she told them what she knew about their-God. She rehearsed how God had dried up the water of The Red Sea when they came out of Egypt and what God had done unto the two kings of the Amorites on the other side of Jordan. God’s reputation preceded Him. Here is what she said.
“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
First and foremost courage comes from God. He can do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can think or ask to encourage our hearts. God honors your courage He (God) told King David the following: He said this in I Chronicles 22:13.
“Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.”
Sometimes courage is quietly demonstrated; sometimes courage receives a heroes welcome. It is courage nonetheless. It operates on the Faith you have in The Father.
Finally, look at Acts 28:15, it reads:
“And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Forum and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.”
Paul’s ship had been in a terrible storm. God sent an angel to Paul to encourage him. Paul wanted to go to Rome. He was deeply encouraged when Roman Christians met him about forty-three miles from Rome, a place called Appiiforum, to express their love for him. This gave Paul courage to go on. People can encourage us to be what we need to be; they can encourage us to finish our course. Sometimes we have to encourage ourselves, when noone else understands the job we need to do.
Courage is something we all have to exercise, at some point in our lives. One part of Numbers 13:20 says we should, “be ye of good courage.”
When there are storms in life, we can make. Courage – will cause you to make it. When you have deep-seated problems, struggles, tribulations,- know that courage will sustain and you will make it.
We are special to God. He desires courage in His creation. Faith in Him will propel us into the WIN ZONE. When courage becomes nescessary, use the experience to be Blessed.