Leadership School # 7 at the Embassy of God Church. Pastor Sunday Adelaja continued his teaching about the love of truth. Pastor started the first day of the school with the topic of integrity and how we can become decent people.
We hear this word but we don’t know its meaning: “This is a decent person”, “And this one is not a decent person”. We use this word very often but we don’t often know what it means.
Distinctive feature of integrity.
A decent person is concerned with his inner self and how that corresponds to who heclaims to be. Such unity of thinking and way of life is called integrity.
“Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” (Abraham Lincoln).
This is a big problem, especially in Ukraine. People prefer to be decent only if it is profitably. And, unfortunately, due to the fact that we live in such an environment, many people bring thisunderstanding of integrity into the church.
Dishonesty must have nothing in common with Christianity.
What does it mean to be a decent person?
Features of integrity
To be a decent person means to be sincere, pure, one of honor and conscience.
“The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right” (Proverbs 21:8)
“Integrity is in sincerity and honesty.” (Fedor Dostoevskiy).
A decent person is frank: he is frank in his thoughts, speech and actions. He says what he thinks and thinks what he says. It is difficult to find such people nowadays as practically all people deflect. Very often we don’t want to offend each other; we don’t want to hurt others so that is why when we say something we beat about the bush. It is a manifestation of dishonesty and slyness.
“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Gal.2:14)
If you want to be decent, learn to be concrete in your thoughts, words, and wishes: be frank with your debaters and friends.
“Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way” (Proverbs 23:19).
A decent person is a concrete one: he doesn’t leave place for manipulation. He says everything as it is and says what he thinks. If we want to become better people and who will be received by God in heaven, we need to be frank, direct and honest.
- He doesn’t expect to be judged by his motives.
A decent person is the one who doesn’t expect other people to understand him or judge his motives. Only God knows and can judge our motives. On the other hand people can’t look inside a person’s heart.
People judge by what they see.
Very often people who don’t understand what integrity means will say: “I didn’t mean anything bad. God knows my heart, and He knows my motives.” God knows everything but people who communicate with you don’t feel better because of this. People might not understand what you mean and what your motives are.
To be decent you need to rely not only on God to see your heart but on people to know about this too.
For people not to guess about your intentions you should learn:
- to express your opinion clearly;
- to express your motives;
- to express purely the way it is in your heart.
“Sincerity is not only to say everything you think but never say what you don’t think at the moment of speaking.” (Andre Maurois)
May our deeds speak for us. God judges by motives but people by deeds.
We should make sure our deeds correspond with our motives, so that we do not need to interpret our deeds. “But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we” (2 Cor. 11:12).
- He understands his imperfections.
A decent person is the one who understands that he is still not all he has to be. His integrity is that he understands he needs to improve. A decent person understands that he hasn’t reached perfection yet.
When other people reprove him, his integrity displays that he doesn’t confront; he isn’t opposed to them and he isn’t offended. On the contrary, he accepts all his criticism with joy because he understands that those people love him and they are interested in him and they want to help him.
How does a dishonest person behave?
This person is complacent, protective, and full of fear that someone will tell him something he doesn’t like. The danger is that this person becomes “rotten” inside because he doesn’t allow anyone to correct him.
- He loves the truth.
A decent person doesn’t fight against the truth. To look for the truth is a sign of integrity. However, the truth is not to search the internet and find compromising information on other people or rummage in dirty laundry.
A decent person examines himself.
To love to the truth means to work on yourself: find out how to improve yourself and ask for help from other people; for them to tell you the truth.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Mat. 7:1, Luke 6:37).
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Rom.14:13).
- He doesn’t look for excuses.
There are people, who after they have misbehaved, will find thousands of excuses for them not to seem guilty. Such people never admit their guilt.
Excuses are a sign of dishonesty.
The dishonest person:
- Hides his guilt at first,
- Then he makes excuses,
- And then he puts the blame on other people.
It is the clearest manifestation of dishonesty.
To be decent you should learn to:
- Confess your faults where you are wrong;
- Stop making excuses;
- Not blame other people for your slip-ups;
- Take responsibility for your actions.
It is better to confess your sins and change than stay the same and even become worse, which is to degrade.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8, 9).
- To apprehend criticism.
Even if he doesn’t like it, the decent person is against those who criticize him, but he isn’t opposed to criticism.
A MATURE, DECENT AND SINCERE PERSON IS NOT AFRAID OF CRITICISM.
A decent person is not afraid of anything because he is sincere and he is as brave as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them” (Prov. 11:6).
“The integrity of the upright guides them” (Prov. 11:3).
What does criticism mean?
Criticism is an opportunity:
– to improve yourself;
– to work on yourself.
Criticism is a veiled compliment that states when a person does something and other people notice it.
Only the person who actually does something is criticized. A decent person understands this.
There is a benefit even in nonconstructive criticism.
Even nonconstructive, unfair criticism doesn’t make a decent person furious. If he is criticized unfairly he uses this as an opportunity to analyze himself and to work on himself thereby becoming better.
“If people like you, then you are good. If people hate you, then you are the best.” (Jose Mourinho, a Portuguese football coach and a present mentor of London’s Chelsea).
If we want to be decent people we have to live according to our inner self.
When a person lives according to his conscience, his way of life corresponds with his values, his heart, motives and thoughts, so that whatever people say – a righteous person will be as brave as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
Psalms 15: A psalm of David. Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things willnever be shaken.
What integrity is not.
The dangers of an incorrect understanding of what it means to be a decent person, because he is not sly, he says what he thinks and thinks what he says, are:
- Open rudeness
There are people who boast of being honest and at the same moment kill the truth despite other people. They don’t respect other people and they are rude. It doesn’t matter whether it is a woman, an old person or a pastor in front of them.
They cover their dishonesty by “their truth”.
- Disrespect to parents
Jesus condemned the Pharisees who covered by spiritual reasoning, the neglect of taking care of their parents.
“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother, and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother” (Mark 7:10-12).
When people are insensitive to other people.
For example, to criticize how someone looks and his unfashionable clothes, when this person doesn’t have money for food.
- Condemnation of other people
A lot of people by speaking the truth will condemn other people, anointed people, parents, and members of the church.
“It’s harder to be decent for week than to be a hero for fifteen minutes.”(Jules Renard – French writer).
Let’s pay attention to the notion “integrity” and make a decision that my love will correspond with what I say; my life will be integral.
- Read the book by Pastor Sunday, “Why do people respect chess players or how to learn to think”. Read it as many times as possible for your life to correspond with what is written in this book.
- Why is integrity a proof of love for truth?
- Give a definition of the word integrity and give an example of this definition.
- Do I have the problem of dishonesty? If yes, in what way? If not, prove it.
- How does a decent person react to criticism? How does a decent person react to unfair criticism?
- What is the correlation between integrity and conscience?
- What actions are not decent?
- Is there a danger of dishonesty when we pay attention to outer things and our reputation?
Translated by Elena Vylegzhanina
Edited by Bridget Hopley