Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 2: Practice Integrity : Friday, Dec. 17, 2004
December 17 2004 by John Pond

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 2: Practice Integrity : Friday, Dec. 17, 2004
Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for Jan. 2: Practice Integrity

By John Pond
Focal Passage: Titus 2:1,11-3:8

Integrity is a valued virtue. In Proverbs 11:3 we read: "The integrity of the upright guides them."

Josephus tells the story of an incident that occurred during the reign of Caligula. The Roman general Petronius was ordered to erect a statue of the emperor in the Temple in Jerusalem, but tens of thousands of unarmed Jews protested, baring their throats and insisting that they would rather die than become idolaters.

Moved by their courage, he wrote Caligula to say that honor would not allow him to place the statue in the Temple. That is courageous integrity.

The term "integrity" comes from the Latin integritas, which carries the sense of wholeness, completeness and undividedness.

Integrity comes from God

Titus 2:1,11-15

Believers are called to be a people of integrity. The early church was constantly faced with the problem of false teachings and living. Doctrines were advanced that "professed to know God, but ... denied Him" in practice.

Paul insisted that the Christian message and practice must be inseparably and harmoniously related. He told Titus to speak those things that are consistent and appropriate for sound teaching. He was to challenge all false teachings and the erroneous practice that result from them.

A lifestyle of integrity comes from the "grace of God" that has come to light, with salvation for all people.

The pagan world defined grace as an outside blessing periodically given to undeserving individuals. The biblical image is that of God's continuous covenant with mankind - His unmerited love. This love is expressed in the act of salvation from the penalty, power, presence and possession of sin. This grace-filled salvation also looks to the future "blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (NRSV). That is confident integrity.

Integrity enhances relationships

Titus 3:1-3

People of integrity are trustworthy. In times of crisis they demonstrate consistency and moral passion. Integrity expresses itself in our numerous and intricate relationships.

Thus, Titus reminds the faith community to be obedient and spontaneously available "for every good work." One with integrity will not slanderously "blaspheme" another person or be disruptively contentious. Instead, he or she will be gentle and fair, always showing every consideration (the biblical concept meekness and humility) for all people.

While living with integrity, we are to remember our former lifestyles. We, too, have been ignorant, disobedient, purposely led astray, enslaved to our desires and passions. Rather than caring for others, we greedily detested one another.

God empowers us to act with integrity

Titus 3:4-8

We live in an environment of tolerance and relevance where integrity is desired but difficult to find or experience. We live in a culture of self-aggrandizement that paradoxically craves integrity, but God in His grace saved us and empowered us to live with integrity.

Let us remember not just our salvation, but especially "the genuine goodness and generosity and covenant love of God" (literal sense) directed to man.

Let us remember God's mercy, which wrought our deliverance. It is through His gracious pro-activity that we have been redeemed, regenerated and renewed, spiritually empowered to live lives of integrity. His Spirit has been liberally poured out upon us, enabling us to carefully devote ourselves to doing what is good.

We are enabled to live lives of good result - "good and profitable to everyone." That is biblical integrity.

12/17/2004 12:00:00 AM by John Pond | with 0 comments

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