Read almost any business book, self-help book, or do a search on the internet on articles of how to be a better person and one will come across the word “integrity.”
The Bible is also full of examples of individuals who were people of integrity. People like Caleb, Ruth, Job, Paul, and many others lived their lives before God and people with integrity.
Willard Tate described integrity this way, “The word comes from the mathematical term “integer”, a number that hasn’t been divided into fractions. It’s a whole number. And a person with integrity is a man or woman whose life is not divided against itself [by lying, immorality, cheating, gossiping, stealing, drinking, or dishonesty] someone who enjoys wholeness and completeness” (Habits of a Loving Heart p. 96).
In other words, integrity is more than just telling the truth, it is living the truth, being a truthful person all the time. It is being what we say we are, even when no one is looking; not being hypocritical, deceitful, or untrustworthy.
Proverbs 11:3, teaches that, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”
Dennis Waitley, in an article entitled, "Your Absolute Bottom Line," published in Priorities Magazine, shared this story that well illustrates integrity.
In the operating room of a large, well-known hospital, it was the nurse's first day on the medical team. She was responsible that all instruments and materials were accounted for before completing the final steps of the operation. She said to the surgeon, "You've only removed 11 sponges. We used 12 sponges, and we need to find the last one."
"I removed them all," the doctor declared emphatically. "We'll close the incision now."
"No," the rookie nurse objected, "we used 12 sponges."
"I'll take the responsibility," the surgeon said grimly. "Suture."
"You can't do that, sir," blazed the nurse. "Think of the patient."
The surgeon smiled and lifted his foot, showing the nurse the twelfth sponge. "You'll do just fine in this or any other hospital."
Dishonest people and practices have plagued our society. Companies, government, families, schools, and sadly, even in the church; people have been cheated, lied to, used, and have been victims of dishonest practices; yet this seem to be the norm today. But integrity should be one of the characteristics of the Church. Above all, honesty and integrity should be a characteristic of each Christian.
Jesus put it this way “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11). Think about it!
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
There are a lot of things that we can’t do. We may look around us and see a variety of skills and abilities that we simply don’t have. But one trait that we all possess is the ability to be kind. We can change relationships and influence countless people if we simply have the rule in our way of life to be kind. Paul said in Ephesians 4:32 simply to be kind to one another. This means be kind to your spouse, children, boss, friend, whomever you meet. In Romans 12:10, Paul stresses that part of the right relationship is “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Whatever feelings we have about another person, let us never underestimate the good that kindness will do. When we are kind, we are imitating Jesus. He was kind to multitudes who were hungry. His disciples wanted to send them away, but Jesus felt kindly towards them (Mark 6:30-44). Even the woman caught in the act of adultery was dealt with in a kind way by Jesus (John 8:1-11). Even to Peter, whose actions had to be frustrating to Jesus, he was still kind. I see firmness, but a kind manner, in Paul’s dealing with Onesimus as he encouraged him to go back to Philemon after his conversion. It just seems as we look at the really great characters of the Bible, we are continually struck by the impact of kindness.
As we arise each day, let’s make it a goal to be kind to the people that we meet that day. We can’t help but bring glory to the name of Jesus when we do. - Steve Boyd
When I think of brotherly kindness I think of Jesus Christ. If the truth were known, his acts of kindness would be numberless. But the Scriptures do attempt to give us a picture of this virtue on the life of our Lord. Brotherly kindness was shown when Jesus fed the hungry multitudes; when he healed the lame and blind; when he showed compassion in raising the son of the widow of Nain from the dead; when he cried at the tomb of Lazarus. As great as these acts of kindness were, his greatest act was the sharing of his saving message to the world which he made possible by dying at Calvary. Without that one act of kindness, we would still be lost in sin. It goes without saying that we should always demonstrate this virtue in our lives. Most of us can be kind as long as things go smoothly. It’s when we’re tested that we know whether or not we have the virtue.
If you truly have brotherly kindness you:
1. Will not respond negatively to another’s offenses, but you will turn the other cheek.
2. Will not take revenge into your own hands because it belongs to God.
3. Will not spread damaging gossip about others whether it is true or not!
4. Will not hold grudges, but will forgive and forget.
5. Will give your brother the benefit of the doubt.
As Paul put it, showing brotherly kindness is “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other . . . Just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Col. 3:13).
The question has been asked of me, “Why should I place membership with the local congregation?”
This question can only be answered if one understands that they have obeyed what the Bible teaches on how one becomes a Christian. In Acts 2:38, we see that all those who repented of their sins and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and received the Holy Spirit, were added to the church by God (Acts 2:41,47). This is where a person becomes a member of the church.
Now assume a person has obeyed the Gospel according to scriptures but then they move to a new area or maybe they obeyed the Gospel at church camp or while they were away at college. Why should they place membership with the local congregation?
First, it is biblical. Now the word “membership” is not found in the Bible, but the concept is there. In the New Testament, Christians are identified with the congregation they worshiped and worked with. In Romans 16 Phoebe, Prisca, and Aquila, as well as many others were identified with local congregations. This could be said of each congregation in the New Testament; writers wrote to each congregation which were identified separately, and individual members were identified with one congregation or another.
Another word for membership which is found in Philippians 1:5 is “partnership.” Paul was able to make a distinction from one congregation to another, as well as members because they had identified with the various local congregations.
Second, for involvement purposes. In Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul uses the human body as an example of how each member of the Body of Christ is to function. So, when a person “places membership” the elders of the church should help direct the new member in areas they can best use their talents.
Membership in the church is not like in a civic organization where one just pays dues and shows up to meetings. Church members are expected to do something for God, to teach, serve, lead, give, encourage, or a variety of other activities. It is important that Christians be involved in the work of the church and not just “pew warmers.” When a Christian “places their membership” with a congregation it helps the elders know who they can depend on, and call on, to help with the work of the church.
Third, it helps in building relationships. Membership is about relationships. The churches in Thessalonica and Athens began by people obeying the gospel and joining (consorted, KJV) themselves to Paul and the faithful brethren with him (Acts 17:4; 17:34). Meaning they “associate” or began to congregate together as a body of believers.
Fourth, accountability. Nowhere in the New Testament do, we see Christians being “church members at large” or not identifying with a congregation. In Acts 9:27-28 Saul later Paul was taken to Jerusalem and “identified” with the church in Jerusalem. Later in Acts 13:1-2 Paul “identified” with the church of Antioch. Even Paul who traveled greatly to carry out the gospel of Jesus Christ “identified” or “placed membership” with a congregation. Even in Acts 21:17-18 James is identified with the church in Jerusalem.
Also, how can a member “obey their leaders” and have them watch over you as we see instructed in Hebrews 13:17, if one has not placed membership.
Today many people visit and attend a congregation for a while before they “place membership.” If you are one of those individuals, and you have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ by repenting of your sins and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). Then please go talk to one of our elders, they would enjoy talking to you more about you placing your membership with us at the Camden Ave. Church of Christ.
In Christ, Mark T. Tonkery
How many times have we sat back and just talked about doing something instead of just doing it?
Dr. J. B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks, and fence rails he could find and built a bridge.
Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master’s only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge. (Pulpit Helps, May, 1991).
Many times, we are like those engineers, making plans and talking about doing something yet never really getting the job done.
This is what people often do with their soul. Just talk about doing something: I will go to church one day, I make things right with God before I die, or several other excuses.
You know on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when those three thousand heard they needed to repent and be baptized they immediately did it. The same with the Eunuch in Acts 8, Cornelius in Acts 10, Lydia and the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16. They all immediately were baptized once they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you believe in Christ is the Son of the living God and that He arose from the grave on the third day (Rom. 10:9,10) then why would you wait to be baptized? Why keep talking about it? Why keep thinking about it? Why keep waiting?
2 Cor. 6:2, states, “For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Today is the only day we may have to repent and be baptized; tomorrow may be to late. What is so important that you delay in becoming a Christian?
Ananias ask Saul later called Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” And Saul was baptized immediately.
So, what are you waiting for? Rise and be baptized. Written by Mark T. Tonkery