"Cultivating a lifestyle of personal integrity."
It hit so suddenly. I remember being filled with questions, but simultaneously at ease as I heard what God was telling me to do. Maturation was happening. I was experiencing growing pains with this conviction of heart. For the first time, I clearly saw the direction my life was headed if I continued to seek life on my terms; the predictable life. You know, the one that's fine, good and under control, quickly leading to complacency. The Lord spoke over my deepest wounds and I heard him say that he wanted to use me, but I could not continue living a life merely for external appearance.
At the time I had struggled with feeling discontent, unsettled, insecure and bored, but no one would have known that. I was a woman that compromised to keep the peace, waited on others to step into my depth of devastation and fought to have control of the life I wanted for myself and for others. After my sin was exposed, I recommitted my life to God, seeking to know him and his ways. I had been a Christian for over 18 years at this point and I no longer wanted to mask my inward depravity and merely tame my sin. I wanted to know what it was like to live out what I believed. I had no clue what it would entail to cultivate a life that honors God, but through study of the word, I saw how loved I am, who I am in his image and it became apparent that the seed of personal integrity would reap a harvest of good. Not only for me, but more importantly for others.
My idea about personal integrity wasn't uncommon - What are you doing when no one is watching and won’t find out. That's what I was driven by and I don’t think I’m too far off base to say that's probably what many in the faith believe and practice. Yet, with Truth seeking eyes, it's missing a key component. As a believer who attends a congregation that is gospel driven and scripture focused, I know good and well that the Lord Almighty is omniscience and omnipresence. There is no escaping his watchful eye, no covering up and it doesn't matter that anyone else knows whether you did or did not do the right thing - He knows! This epiphany then brought me to question, what exactly does a lifestyle of integrity mean for me as a Believer. Here’s where I began to cultivate a lifestyle of personal integrity that honors God. Define #1 - Who or what the standard is and #2 - What the code of conduct is.
We are told in 1 John 2:17, that the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. We must define, be attentive and seek opportunities to practice the discipline of personal integrity. I grabbed hold of the coattails of the world's shifty definition of personal integrity that includes half-truths, exaggerations, cheating, fraud and a self-seeking agenda more times than I can count. I ignorantly became numb to scriptural truths and cultural beliefs became my code. Thankfully, God saw my willingness to change. As I sought to be obedient and walk as the woman I am in Christ, the scales began to drop away. It became clear that personal integrity according to scriptural truth was living a life of excellence and doing the right thing because I desire to honor God.
Building this true quality of character takes investment and it's going to cost you. It may cost you your comfort - taking a deep dive into the workings of the heart! It may cost you relationships - being accountable, taking full responsibility, and leaning into confession. This is no longer a life of just talking the talk, but a commitment to walking the walk. Conforming to the code and adhering to the standard.
The return on investment is a life many of us say we trust God for on this side of heaven, but we don't put into practice. A fulfilled, satisfied and peaceful life, that is pleasing to the Lord. Personal integrity is a mighty seed to sow and if we were doing it on our own, it may seem that it's too much for us, but glory be to God, we have Jesus! He is not only our standard, but our source. The one who strengthens us to do what is contradictory to the experience and live a victorious life. God knows your heart. When you do your part, he is faithful to guide you into a mindset and a life of righteousness. Seek his face and his truth. Get into the gospels, read and study for yourself what Jesus would do and cultivate a life of excellence, doing the right thing every time, no matter what the cost.