The ancient Chinese built the “Great Wall” which stretches for several thousand miles, to ensure their security from foreign invaders. Yet during the first hundred years after the wall was completed, China was successfully invaded three times, not by going over the wall or tearing it down, but by bribing the guards and simply marching through the gates. China spent years building the “Great Wall” but didn’t spend enough time building the character of the gatekeepers.
America is the strongest country in the world today. There is no equal, militarily or economically. So, whom do we really have to fear? The answer: ourselves!
Wall Street is still in the news for questionable practices, religious leaders are regularly accused of involvement in scandals and misappropriation of church funds. Even news organizations are accused of illegally wire tapping phones for stories. All of these instances serve as visible examples of a serious erosion of our integrity.
David wrote Psalm 15 to help us set strong standards that would define our integrity as people of God. First he asks the question: Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? In other words, “What kind of individual has an intimate relationship with God? What standards does God expect of us?”
- Those who lead blameless lives… Do we live out what we believe? Do we walk and speak with integrity?
- …and do what is right… This involves our day to day habits and choices in life.
- …speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Do we really mean what we say?
- Those who refuse to slander others… You cannot claim to love your neighbor while spreading gossip and rumors behind their backs.
- …or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends… We avoid being judgmental and treat people with respect.
- Those who despise persistent sinners… It may be good to witness to the wrong crowd, but it’s dangerous to run around with them. Who is influencing whom?
- …and honor the faithful followers of the Lord… We often become like the people we hang with so we should spend our time wisely with those who can help strengthen our faith.
- …and keep their promises even when it hurts. We do what we say, even when it is not in our best interest. The baseball player, Ted Williams, is famous for voluntarily cutting his salary after a bad year. It’s been many years and people still talk about it. That’s integrity.
- Those who do not charge interest on the money they lend… This is not about banks or business but how you help a friend in need: generously and unselfishly.
- …and who refuse to accept a bribe to testify against the innocent. We have positions of trust. We do not accept favors to corrupt our conduct…ever.
Ten standards to guide our Godly integrity. Can you possibly do all of them? Of course not! That is why you and I need God and why we need to be in church. We do our best and trust in God for the rest. Psalm 15 ends with this promise: “Such people will stand firm forever.”
A preacher once gave a sermon on honesty. The next day, she took the bus into town and after taking a seat noticed she was given too much change. She tried to convince herself that the extra money was a gift from God but knew better. Before getting off the bus she handed the driver the extra money and said: “You made a mistake and gave me too much change?”
“That was no mistake,” said the driver with a smile. “I was in your church yesterday and heard your sermon on honesty. So this morning, I gave you a little test!”
People are watching. What will they see in you?