There is one thing that I have learned in life that applies to everything we do and say. That one thing is personal integrity. Integrity can be defined as follows:
The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
“he is known to be a man of integrity”
||honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
“I never doubted his integrity”
As the reader can see, personal integrity, by definition, is one tall order that few, if any of us can claim to possess with any degree of consistency. It goes without saying that the very basis of personal integrity is predicated upon ethics and morality and is demonstrated through our own willingness to be honest, sincere, and truthful, not only with others, but with the person we look at every morning in the mirror.
I do not think it is possible for any one individual to demonstrate true integrity apart from God in our lives. We may hold to some external form of religious piety or offer lip service to integrity based on secular humanistic principles, but inwardly we are a wayward people.
The words that we speak reveal what is in our heart, and ultimately reveal our character.
In a previous post, I presented numerous examples of how people use certain words, but often mean something completely different. To recognize deceit and a lack of integrity in another individual or group is not as difficult as it may seem. One needs to simply start listening, not just with the mind, and the various auditory and visual clues of understanding communication, but with our hearts. The scripture tells us that what comes out of a person’s mouth is that which fills his or her heart.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 NLT
As a child, I was a very trusting person. Somehow, I had a natural tendency to trust others and to give them the benefit of the doubt. By the time I was a young teenager, I had learned the hard way that what people say and what they mean, and do, are often very different things. At first, I was confused, and did not trust that “gut instinct” that the words of someone else, sometimes an authority figure in my life, were actually lies. That particular person(s) lacked personal integrity, and their hollow words were revealing what was really in their heart.
In my early adulthood, when I became a committed follower of Christ, I finally came to recognize that the ability to discern what was in the heart of another was much more than just differentiating between words and visual clues. By the Spirit of God, I was “looking” into the heart of another human being, created in the moral image of God. What I saw there sometimes was deeply disturbing, and yet, at the same time, caused me to feel compassion for that particular individual(s). Perhaps, the compassion I felt was the result of recognizing my own fallenness and tendency to wander from the very God I love. Perhaps it was a gift or a tool that God intended me to use to discern between good and evil, to truly understand the struggles of the human soul in that ongoing war between darkness and light.
So, why am I telling you all this? After all, for some, this seems just too incredible to believe or even understand. I would like to suggest that the ability to discern in the spiritual realm is a lot more common amongst followers of Christ than the world could possibly understand. Yet, even for those who profess to be Christians, I often come across individuals who still depend on their natural mind to understand or grasp something that can only be comprehended spiritually. I have even witnessed that in the prayer lineups of Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. People praying for others with lofty prayers using majestic words, but completely missing the point, and not rightly discerning what is happening in that particular person’s life who has come for prayer. Often, the person in need walks away with an even greater burden upon their shoulders, their spirit broken and slowly drying up. The sick remain sick, the downhearted remain hopeless, the disappointed become disillusioned…
I was troubled to learn that people are being taught in the Church to pray for others with their eyes open looking for visual clues to assist them to know how to pray. So much for discernment, even the proponents of modern psychology know how to use auditory and visual clues to guide them in counselling others. That is not spiritual discernment, that is observation based on the principles of basic science utilizing two of our five senses to understand and verify our environment.
Have we forgotten that the Spirit of God dwells within each and every follower of Christ? Do we understand that only spirit can understand spirit? Deep understands deep?
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7 NIV
For those who have understood and comprehended all of the aforementioned, I want to encourage you to pursue the Giver and not just the gifts. At the same time, allow the Spirit of God to work in and through you for the benefit of others. He will indeed lead you and guide you through this life. Deep calls out to deep.
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