BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for February, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

KNIGHTHOOD AND INTEGRITY (10 of 11)

Integrity is not rocket science. It is simply a commitment to be true to the core.  Integrity means no shading of the truth, no exaggeration, no manipulation of the facts. Just unvarnished truth. Integrity is the state of being complete or undivided. It has the idea of simplicity, soundness, and uprightness. Integrity is unwavering; being blameless before others. People of integrity possess a singleness of heart and mind.

Consider these Scriptures that shed light on the subject:  Surely you desire truth in the inner part. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most HighBlessed are the pure in heart, for they will see GodA double-minded man [is] unstable in all he does…Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.  Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mindI will be careful to lead a blameless life (Psa. 51:6; 7:8b; Matt. 5:8; Jms. 1:6b-8; Psa. 26:1,2;  101:2a)

Recently I watched an old western movie cast in the mid-Nineteenth Century.  One of the striking features was how little the characters talked.  And when they did they were simple and straight forward. To the point.  In those days on the plains, life was tough and survival was paramount.  Thus, there was little time or luxury for verbal dexterity or verbosity.  Just shoot strait and get the job done. You wondered if they understood and lived by Proverbs 10:19: The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.  (The Message Translation)

A short time ago, a friend sent me an expensive gift.  I never received it, or so I thought.  So he sent another one. Two days later I discovered that I have received his first package, but had confused it with a garden product I had ordered on the internet, and had thrown it into the greenhouse. What to do?  Ah, just dont tell him anything. Let it go, said an acquaintance of mine. Well, I couldnt do that, so I called my friend and told him my error, apologized and offered to reimburse him for the mistake. Perhaps that is an application of Jesus statement, Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt. 5:37)

So my friend, lets ask ourselves, are we people of uncompromising integrity both in our motives and in our actions?  Are we true to the core? Not given to shading the truth or manipulating the facts?  Do we hold to the truth, even when it is to our disadvantage to do so?  Or do we have a price? In a world of word games, hyperbole, and down right deceit, are we determined to hold to the truth whatever the cost, however alone we may feel?  I hope so, because integrity is a requirement for getting into heaven: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God…By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned All liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Matt. 5:8; 12:37; Rev. 21:8)

For further study: Gen. 20:5,6; 1 Kin. 9:4; Job 1:1; 27:5; Psa. 7:8; 25:21; 26:1; 41:12; 51:6; 78:72; Pro. 8:7,8; 10:9; 11:3; 13:6; 19:1; 20:7)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

KNIGHTHOOD AND EXCELLENCE (9 of 11)

When we think of excellence we usually think of perfection. Or outstripping others in competition. Or comparing our performance with othersusually for our glory. The biblical concept of excellence, however, operates on a higher plane.  Consider Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. It is noteworthy that the Greek word here for excellent (aret) denotes manliness (valor). Here is how Philippians 4:8 breaks down:

  • Whatever is true Committing yourself to transformation by reading, analyzing, and meditating on the Word of God.  (See Matt. 22:16; Eph. 4:25)
  • Whatever is noble Giving yourself to what is dignified and worthy of respect, rather than to that which is trivial, temporal, and earthly.  (See 2 Cor. 8:21 ; 13:7; Tit. 2:2, 7; 3:14 ; Heb. 3:18 )
  • Whatever is right Focusing on that which is in harmony with Gods perfect, unchanging standards as revealed in the Scriptures.  Learning to think through the lens of Scripture. (See Gen. 18:19;  Psa. 82:2)
  • Whatever is pure Committing yourself to what is holy, morally clean, and undefiled. (See 1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:14; Jms. 1:27; 1 Jn. 3:3)
  • Whatever is lovely Centering your attention on that which is gracious, pleasing, attractive, and amiable before God. (See Act. 10:22; 22:12; 1Cor. 13; 1 Tim. 5:10)
  • Whatever is of good repute Fixing your thoughts on what is lofty and well thought of from Gods point of view. 2  (See Rut. 3:11; Pro. 12:4:31:10,29; 2 Pet. 1:3)

Solomon admonished us, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Pro. 4:25)  The word heart here centers on the mind, emotions, and will.  Therefore the quest for excellence requires that certain things be kept in our heart as well as from our heart.  "Everything is permissible for me–but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me–but I will not be mastered by anything.  (I Cor. 6:12) Failure to guard your heart is a sure recipe for disaster, while a well-guarded heart spells victory, and a life of excellence in the eyes of God.

Brian Harbour in Rising Above the Crowd contrasts worldly success with biblical excellence: Excellence means being your best. Success to many means being better than anyone else. Excellence means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday.  Success means exceeding the achievements of others.  Excellence means matching your practice with your potential. 1 Excellence has to do with being the best we can for Gods glory with the gifts and abilities He has given us, without the spirit of competition. Because the good can become the enemy of the best, the person in pursuit of excellence is often faced with hard choices priority-wise (Phil. 3:7-14).

QUESTIONS:  So my fellow pilgrim, what are you allowing into your mind and heart?  Does it line up with Philippians 4:8?  What prudent measures are you taking to block out the sensual, the mundane, the earthy, the crass, the brutal, thewell, anything that violates your spirit; anything that intrudes on your sweet intimacy with Jesus?  Anything that is an affront to the character of Christ? Are you up to the challenge of becoming a knight for Christ?  A knight of excellence and valor in His eyes?

For further study: Deut. 6:4,5; Ecc.9:10 ; Matt. 22:37 -39; Rom. 2:18 ; 1 Cor. 10:31 ; 15:58 2 Cor. 8:7; Phil. 1:9, 10; 1 Thes. 3:12 , 13; 4:1, 10;

1 Leading the Way by Paul Borthwich, NavPress; 1989 p. 64 

2 Key ideas drawn from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KNIGHTHOOD AND SELF-DISCIPLINE (8 of 11)

Self-discipline and discipleship go hand in hand. You dont get one without the other. The Apostle Paul speaks of his own self-discipline:  I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.   He challenges us that when the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders.  An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere.  It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce.   (I Cor. 9:26b, 27; 2 Tim. 2:3-6) ( See Phil. 3:12 -14; Rom. 8:13 ; Col. 3:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Pet. 2:11 )

Paul also emphasized the idea of self-discipline in stating, Train yourself to be godly. (1 Tim. 4:7b) That little word train is derived from the Greek word gumnazo from which we get the English word gymnasium and conveys the idea of training, practice, keeping spiritually fit. (Gumnazo is also used in Heb. 5:14; 12:11 ) The Apostle also emphasized that a disciplined life is a qualification for spiritual leadership in the church, An eldermust live a devout and disciplined life.  (Tit. 1:8)

So the question I need to ask myself is: Am I intentionally training to be godly through such self-disciplines as intercessory prayer,  and intake of Gods word through Bible study, reading, meditation and memorization? Am I learning to be still before God in order to hear his voice?  Or am I just moseying along; going with the flow? (See 1Thes. 5:17; Act. 17:11; Rev. 1:3; Josh. 1:8,9; Matt. 4:1-17; Psa.  46:10) 

The Scriptures further challenge us, The grace of Godteaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.  (Tit. 2:11, 12 Selected) The raw truth is that self-discipline is an essential element in our path toward living a godly life. Developing self-discipline involves not only a surrender of our will to the Lordship of Christ, but also partnering with the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live victoriously over sin: Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureThe power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death. (Gal. 5:16b; Rom 8:2,3 Selected)  (See 2Cor. 5:14 )

In an era where the emphasis on our freedoms in Christ seem to be paramount, we would do well to keep in mind Pauls admonition:  Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, First you eat to live, and then you live to eat? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!  (I Cor. 6:12, 13 Msg.) So the question is, Am I choosing to live by priorities based on carefully thought out Biblical values and absolutes?  Or am I being swept along by what is currently in vogue in the compromising environment of cultural Christianity? (See I Cor. 8:13; I Thes. 4:3-5; 1 Tim. 3:11 ; 6:11 ,12; Tit. 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:11)

From the following Scriptures, it is evident that the ungodly and doubtless many defeated Christians lack self-discipline and thus  cave in to the pull of their lower nature: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good.   (2 Tim 3:2, 3) (See Rom. 1:28-31)

Let me ask you: Are you choosing to master the self-disciplines of humbly focusing on others, living within, or even below your financial means?  Are you mastering the self-discipline of measured speech and patience with others? Are you choosing to flee the slightest modicum of sexual temptation? Or is it business as usual as you blend in with the mediocre middle?  You know, flip off the T. V. when you feel like it? Open the Book when you feel like it?  Push away from the dinner table when you feel like it? Or have you chosen to be one of that rare breed of self-disciplined knights in training?  God is looking for such people, and our sick world is in desperate need of them. (See Ezek. 22:30)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

KNIGHTHOOD AND HONESTY (7 of 11)

The salesman tells me the purchase and installation of the water pump will cost about $500.00.  When the bill comes its $650.00. The picture in the advertisement of a chili burger and what I got at the restaurant bear little resemblance. When I mention it to the waitress, she informs me, Sir, thats just advertising. 

Tell, me, does the following passage reflect the state of our society?  The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remainsBoth hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what  they desire– they all  conspire together[they]  practice extortion  and commit robbery;  they oppress the poor

and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. (Mic. 7:2, 3; Ezek 22:29 Selected) (See Jer. 5:1)

The biblical concept of honesty involves fairness and straightforwardness of conduct.  It has to do with that which is good, excellent and honorable, emanating from a noble heart. Perhaps the one verse that best summarizes these qualities is Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true (concealing nothing) whatever is noble (venerable, honorable), whatever is right (equitable, innocent, just), whatever is pure (innocent, clean, modest, chaste), whatever is lovely (friendly, acceptable), whatever is admirable (well spoken of, reputable) –if anything is excellent (virtuous, excellent, valorous) or praiseworthy (commendable, laudatory)–think about such things.

Honesty has to do with:

  • Maintaining a pure heart: The Psalmist asks, Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?  And then answers his own question: He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. (Psa. 24:3,4)
  • Practicing integrity:  God instructed King Solomon, "If you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’  But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them.  (1 Kin. 9:4-6)

King David prayed:  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.  And Job cried out, Till I die, I will not deny my integrity.  (Psa. 25:21; Job 27:5b)

  • Living a blameless life: The righteous man leads a blameless lifeWe have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. (Pro. 20:7; 2 Cor 7:2 Selected) Consider Gods description of Job:  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (Job 2:3)  (See Dan. 6:4,5; Rom 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21; Psa. 16:1,11)
  • Sustaining impeccable business practices: Isaiah asked the question: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?  (i.e. God) He then answers his own question: He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil.  (Isa. 33:14-15) (See Pro. 11:1; 12:22)
  • Living with a clear conscience: We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every wayI strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Heb 13:18; Act. 24:16) (See Job 27:6)

PRAYERLord, grant me a heart that hungers for purity, with the resolve to live with total integrity in terms of my motives and actions. Amen.