Thursday, April 4, 2013

Character and Integrity: Be an imitator of God

Merriam-Webster defines character as:
c: the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation <the character of the American people>

Merriam-Webster defines integrity as:
1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

As people of God, we should have a moral and ethical compass that is guided by the Word of God.  Our society's ideas of character and integrity do not necessarily line up with the word of God.  Character and integrity are both traits that will be reflected in our words and actions every day.  People either have integrity or they do not...but everyone has character.  You can have good, upright and righteous character, or you can have bad character.  We choose what our character will be. 
America is a country that loves cliches.  There is one related to character and integrity:
"Integrity is what you have when no one is watching." 
Sounds good, right?  I find one fatal flaw in this saying: 

God is always watching.  God is always with us.  Someone is always watching...

 Hebrews 13:5
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
For someone to leave us, they must first be with us.  God is always with us.  Our conduct should be worthy of the presence of God and King; of the Creator that formed us.  He is ever present, no matter where we go, no matter what we do or what we say.  Many people forget that He is Omnipresent and they conduct themselves as though what they are doing or saying is said or done in secret and in the dark  Ephesians 5 says that all things reproved, or done in secret, will be made manifest in the light. 
Ephesians 5:1,2 says:
1 - Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
2 - And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 
Not only did Paul tell the church at Ephesus to imitate God, he then told them how to do it. 
  1. Walk in love
  2. Give yourself as Christ gave Himself
  3. Be an offering and a sacrifice

Imitating God includes conducting one's self uprightly and with strong moral and ethical values.  For those of us in the business world and in sales, sometimes there is a moral and ethical boundary we walk right up to but stop just short of the violating our character and integrity.  Is coming so close to the boundary good or bad?

I personally believe we should avoid all appearance of evil.  We cannot seek peace and pursue it if we are pushing boundaries further and further away from the Word of God.  Our conduct should be above reproach.  Any person, believer and unbeliever, alike should be able to look at the fruit of our lives and know without question where we stand on any issue.  Imitating God as a small child would gives His character and His integrity. 

An imitation is never as good as the real thing and will still have imperfections, but at least our compass will have us pointed in the correct direction.  As we begin to imitate Him and His ways, we become better and pure...we seek His righteousness and we will be highly favored by men. 

When considering our character and our integrity, we must remember we will be called upon on the day of judgement to give an accounting of how we lived our lives.  I know I want to hear, "Well done My good and faithful servant." 


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