Biblical Masculinity #4: Integrity

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I have been making posts on masculine virtues as seen in the Book of Proverbs, arising from my earlier comment that one of the greatest needs of our time is for men to embrace not secular masculinity but biblical masculinity.  So far, I have considered the priority that Christian men fear the Lord, I have given a definition for biblical masculinity, and I have spoken of industry as an essential masculine virtue.  As Proverbs continues, it strongly emphasizes the importance of integrity. Integrity has taken a common definition that is little different from honesty.  A man with integrity keeps his word.  That is true, of course.  But more broadly, it speaks of a wholeness about one's life.  Proverbs 10:9 says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”  A life of integrity is a straight life, lived along the magnetic azimuth of principle and conviction.

The enemy of integrity today is compartmentalization: a person may be one kind of man at home, another at work, yet another at church, and still another on the golf course or during the business trip.  Compartmentalization is a destructive force in too many men's lives.  In contrast, integrity is essential to a man as a leader, as a witness to the gospel, and as a disciple of Christ.

The reason integrity is essential to leadership is that people are not stupid.  And they tend to notice things.  This is why the proverb says, "he who makes his ways crooked will be found out."  True values and beliefs are always lived; when espoused values are not lived they are instead mocked.  Think how important this is to a man's leadership in the home.  A godly man is not likely to be perfect, but if his walk with God has integrity then he can still inspire his wife and children.  This is also why integrity wears so well with humility.  The hearts of children are drawn to the Lord when they witness their father confessing his sins, turning to God for forgiveness, and seeking grace through God's Word and prayer to live out his convictions.  But is there anything that sours children to Christianity more quickly than a hypocritical father?  A man who acts one way at church and another way at home is doing great damage in the hearts of his wife and children, making a mockery of the grace of the Lord.

For similar reasons, this is true of our witness in general.  Our neighbors, co-workers, and extended family members also notice how we live outside the church.  Moreover, since our usefulness to God relies utterly on his outpoured grace in our lives, who do we think we are kidding?  We certainly are not fooling God.  As a full-time preacher, I feel this very keenly.  Of course, I need to preach the Bible's commands even if I think I'm doing a lousy job of keeping them myself.  But woe unto me if I feel no pull to a more authentic walk with God!  It is not hypocritical for me to imperfectly put into practice what I preach, but it utterly lacks integrity if I do not feel the applications of my own preaching most strongly in my own heart.  I feel that the great shoal upon which my ministry would be utterly ship-wrecked is a lack of integrity regarding what I preach and what I seek God's grace to put into practice.

Lastly, integrity is at the heart of a man's life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Integrity speaks not only to the wholeness of our living, but also on the oneness of our devotion.  Christian integrity means living primarily for the pleasure and glory of God.  How vital this is in light of the pragmatism to which so many are prone today.  Are we willing to lose out for the sake of principle?  I believe we can cheerfully be labeled failures by the world if only we know that Jesus is honored and pleased.  Are we able to endure the even greater trial of success without being carried away into danger?  We can, if the success we truly serve is that of Christ's kingdom and gospel.
Posted February 2, 2007 @ 10:28 AM by Rick Phillips

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