Bible Reading: Luke 23:1-26
There are so many pressures in our world that influence what we do. Sometimes it can be difficult to make decisions. We need to remember that as followers of Christ…our decisions are to be based on the Word of God, the Bible. Nothing else…no-thing else…should ever take priority over the Bible. It is the final authority in our life. When we regularly and consistently make our decisions based on what God tells us to do in the Bible…then we have integrity.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
My father was called “Pop” by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was one of the most honest men I have ever known. He was faithful to his Lord, to my mother, to his family, to his church, to his friends, to his job…he was a man of integrity.
Back when I was in High School he was a production manager for a very large citrus production company. That meant that he was a farmer who grew orange groves. He was pretty much at the top of his profession in Florida. He had attended college and had many years of experience…but the job he currently held was about the best that he could ever expect. We were proud of him.
The company that he worked for was primarily owned by two men. The rest was owned by a number of different people who bought acreages of groves as a financial investment. Most of them were from up north and never saw their groves. But occasionally, one of them would come to Florida to see their groves. When that happened, the two men would tell my father to take them out and show them how the groves were doing. At one point, the two men had sold a large acreage of groves to investors…but those groves had not been planted, yet. Not long after, some of those investors decided that they wanted to see their groves. They told the two men that they were going to be making a trip to Florida. The two men called my father on the telephone and told him that they were coming. They knew that the investors’ groves had not been planted yet…so, they told my father to show them some other groves and tell them that those groves belonged to them. Now, my father knew that it wasn’t true. He told the two men that he wasn’t going to lie the investors. The two men told my father that if he would not do what he was told to do…that he would be fired…and that there were other men who would do what they were told to do and they were standing in line to get his job. He had a choice to make. He could either, lie and keep his job; or, he could resign from his job and keep his integrity. He resigned. I’ll never forget the day that he came home and told us that he had resigned…and why. I think it was one of the proudest moments of my young life. My father was a man of integrity. You couldn’t threaten him, or buy him out. My Dad was a man. A man of integrity.
It was a tough few months around our home. We didn’t have a lot of money in the first place. And now, well, let’s just say that we ate a lot of eggs and toast for a while. Eventually, Dad was offered another job and things got better. But in the meantime, a strange thing happened. Dad got a phone call from a government agency. It seemed that they had been investigating the two men that owned the company and knew that they were breaking the law. Dad was subpoenaed to give a testimony in court about what he knew. If he had still been working there…he would have been in legal trouble, himself. But the government was already aware that he had resigned, and why.
Jesus was arrested by the Jewish authorities. Actually, the Jewish authorities only had control over religious matters…not legal matters. The Roman government had control over legal matters. And in fact, the Jewish authorities didn’t even have complete control over many of their own religious matters. For instance, there were Jewish laws in the Old Testament that stipulated that if they were broken the guilty person was to be sentenced to death. But the Roman government would not allow the Jewish authorities to put anyone to death. Only the Roman government could sentence a person to that punishment. That’s where the problem with Jesus came in for the Jewish authorities. They wanted to have Jesus put to death. The real reason was that they didn’t want to admit that He was the Messiah because if He was…then their control over the Jewish people would be threatened. But, that’s not what they told the people. No, they told the Jewish people that Jesus had made claims that He was the “Son of God”…and that was blasphemy. And in a Jewish court, that would have been grounds to be put to death. But the Roman government could care less about what they saw as merely squabbles among the Jewish people. And the claim of Jesus to be the “Son of God” made absolutely no difference to them. So, the Jewish authorities changed their story when they drug Jesus before the Roman authorities. The Roman who was in charge was named Pontius Pilate. He was the Prefect, or governor, of Judaea (the part of the land of Israel where Jerusalem was located). When the Jews brought Jesus before Pilate, he questioned Him thoroughly and then told the Jewish authorities that he found nothing that Jesus had done that would make it necessary to sentence Him to death. This happened two times. After the second time, Pilate told the Jewish authorities that he would punish Jesus and then let Him go. But the Jews were determined. They wanted Jesus put to death. They began to threaten Pilate…telling him that if he did not put Jesus to death that when Caesar (the Roman emperor) heard about it (and they would make sure that he did)…that Pilate would be removed from his position of leadership…and maybe even worse would happen to him. Luke said about the Jewish authorities, “But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.” Finally, Pilate caved in to the pressure. He compromised his beliefs. He pronounced Jesus guilty and sentenced Him to die. He kept his job…but he lost his integrity.
Someone has said that integrity is difficult to gain…hard to keep…but easy to lose. To have integrity means that all of your decisions…not just many, or most, but all…are in keeping with your beliefs. If the decisions you make are consistently in keeping with your beliefs…then you have integrity. But all it takes for you to lose your integrity…is one decision that is not in keeping with your beliefs.
Sometimes people think that this only applies to the big, major, once-in-a-lifetime type of decisions that you make. But that’s not so. It also applies to the small, almost insignificant, daily decisions that you make. In fact, I can almost guarantee that if a person doesn’t practice integrity in their small decisions…they don’t practice integrity in their big decisions, either.
God commands us to be people of integrity. We are not to make our decisions based on…
- what other people think we should do
- or, what is popular
- or, on what might make life easier
- or, our job, or friends, or money.
We should make our decisions based on our beliefs…what God has said in the Bible. And not just many, or most of our decisions…but all of them…big and little. The moment that you compromise your integrity in a little decision…you have already taken the first step to compromise your integrity in a big decision. What decisions will you make today? Make sure that they are in keeping with what you believe.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,