The apostle Peter in his first letter said that people, like Chief Red Jacket, are watching our every move to see what kind of difference our faith makes in our lives.  People who are not believers are living all around us, Peter says, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Peter 2:12). 

The word "behold" means to "observe," not a passing glance but a concentrated effort. People are making mental notes on us.  People are watching us whether we like it or not, especially if we claim to be a believer in Christ.

What do they watch? Like Chief Red Jacket, they watch to see if our behavior matches our belief, if our walk matches our talk, if our character matches our confession, if what we claim to believe on Sunday is put into practice on Monday. In a word, they watch to see if we have integrity. 

The hallmark of the Christian life is integrity and moral and ethical excellence in all our dealings. Isn’t that what Chief Red Jacket wanted to see in the white people: if they were good, honest, and not given to cheating? 

I want to look at three things quickly this morning:

#1) The Meaning of Integrity

Integrity is a high standard of living based on a personal code of morality that doesn’t succumb to the whim of the moment or the dictates of the majority. Integrity is to personal character what health is to the body or 20/20 vision is to the eyes. Integrity comes from the word integer which means entire or whole. A person of integrity is whole, their lives are put together. People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. As Solomon wrote, "He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known." (Proverbs 10:9).

Their lives are open books. They say to a watching world, "Go ahead and look.  My behavior will match my beliefs.  My walk will match my talk.  My character will match my confession.  Who I am on Sunday will be the same on Monday and every other day of the week." Can that be said about us here this morning? It should!

#2) Let’s look at The Model of Integrity:

Without a doubt, Jesus is the supreme model of integrity. His life evidenced his purity and excellent character, that his enemies could only declare,

"And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth:" (Mark 12:14).

Even at the conclusion of His life here on earth as He stood before Pilate in the mockery of a trial, the ruler said, "I find no fault in this man." (Luke 23:4). There was no basis for guilt, no evidence of fault found in Jesus.  In other words, his behavior matched his belief, his walk matched his talk, his character matched his confession.

It is for these reasons that Peter instructed all believers: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" (1 Peter 2:21). Peter gives us the example, the model of integrity that we should follow. If the world is watching us, then we should be watching Christ. We should follow his example. We should do as he has done. 

Story:

Charles Sheldon delivered a series of messages in his Topeka, Kansas church about a community of believers that began to model the behavior, the character, and walk of Jesus. He took as his text 1 Peter 2:21. His sermons were compiled into a book, "In His Steps", which became an instant bestseller. The story turns on the response of key church members to the challenge of their minister. He requests that they join him in a pledge that for one year they will make no major decision without first asking, "What would Jesus do?" Through this simple yet profound challenge, the life of Christ is manifested through individuals in this story in amazing ways. The narrative deals with the presence and model of Christ influencing churches, homes, work settings, communities, and the nation. It realistically captures the excitement and joy but also the sacrifice and pain that mark individual lives that follow in Jesus’ steps.

I would like to present the same challenge is to you today. Will we walk in Jesus’ steps? Will we follow his model? Will we make a pledge that before any major decision to ask, "What would Jesus do?" Will we live a life of integrity?

Story:

There was a young Christian man in a southern university. He made the football team as the starting split end. And he continually was before God saying, ‘Help me in the heat of the moment to be absolutely honest. I pray for honesty--that one mark of integrity. I want to be that, Lord, and I’ll work on it through the season.’ The rival team came in that night for the homecoming game. The play was called down near the goal line for him. The quarterback dropped back and this young man ran his route to perfection and was open in the end zone. The quarterback rifled him the pass and he received it down very low. In fact he landed on it, and the referee shouted and held up his hands, ‘Touchdown!’ But that boy knew he had trapped the ball. (for you who aren’t into that, it means that he didn’t really catch it.) The stands were just going wild and cheering, you know, sending him on his way, the hero of the game. But you know what he did? He said, ‘Wait a minute.’ Can you imagine this? He walked up to the referee and shook his head. He said, ‘I trapped it ref.’ I really didn’t score that touchdown that you said that I did. The referee canceled the touchdown and they ended up losing the game. Now you may not understand much about football, but you know what it is to be a fan. And that boy stood all alone that night, not only against a team that said, ‘What does it matter, man?’ but against the stands full of people who care more about winning then about integrity.

What would you have done?

We’ve looked at the meaning of integrity and seen the model of integrity, the Lord Jesus, lastly lets look at:

#3) The Manifestations of Integrity.

How is integrity practiced on a daily basis? Where do people watch us most closely?

Peter answers that question. He identifies several arenas where integrity is put to the test with the watching world observing our reaction. He also provides some practical solutions to take in those areas so that our integrity will stay in tact. 

He says:

1) In tempting circumstances, "stay away."

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" (1 Peter 2:11). Paul told young Timothy in II Timothy 2:22,

"Flee also youthful lusts."

Also in Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul says,

"That ye put off (literally to throw overboard) concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

Story:

There was a new show that was being advertised a couple of years ago on the Fox network. It was a new "reality" TV show called "Temptation Island" Many people were very upset about it and various groups were fighting against it’s airing as well we should.

Well, Temptation Island is a short-order unscripted series in which four unmarried couples travel to the Caribbean to test and explore the strength of their relationship. Once on the island, the couples are introduced to eligible singles and then separated from their partners until the final day of their stay. The object for the couples is to see if they love each other enough to overcome temptation. The object for the singles is to see if they can tempt the couples to be unfaithful. The object for Fox TV is to make a lot of money off people who can’t resist the temptation to watch such garbage.

The problem is that more than 16 million people found the debut of Fox’s reality series "Temptation Island" irresistible -- the network’s biggest audience ever for a Wednesday series debut. In fact people probably stayed home from prayer meeting to watch it.


In reality we all live on "temptation planet." Our object as Christians is to remain faithful to God. We have to deal with a "tempter" whose object is to get us to be unfaithful to God. The Christian life is a love relationship with God. Satan wants to ruin that relationship and will do anything he can to get you to put your desires on something besides God.   

Paul said in II Corinthians 5:14,

"For the love of Christ constraineth us;" What was Paul saying here. One commentator says,

That the love of Christ has such a constraining power, and obliging force and efficacy upon the soul, that it inclines it to a willing performance of all duties, though attended with the greatest difficulties and dangers. Love is the spring of action, 'tis a forcible and compelling, 'tis an invincible, unconquerable affection: and it has such an influence from the consideration of what Christ is in himself, and of what he has done for us, and designed for us.

Do you love God enough to flee in the hour of temptation? In tempting situations, we are to flee. To run. To get away. That means avoiding situations were you easily fall to temptation. It may mean having the hotel desk clerk to disconnect the adult channels on the television in your room before you enter. It may mean never traveling with someone of the opposite sex on business. It may mean avoiding certain groups of people where you are easily swayed into destructive behavior. But whatever your besetting sin is, you must flee it!

The Manifestations of Integrity is in tempting circumstances, stay away,

#2 In authoritative situations, show respect:

"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." (1 Peter 2:13-14, 17).

Peter instructs us to respect the government and the ones who enforce the laws for the government. We are to submit, or to yield. He says that we are to yield to authority. Yielding to authority is a mark of a believer. Yielding, like coming to a Yield sign when driving a car, means letting the other guy have his way first. Submission or yielding is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of self-control. It is saying I don’t have to have my way all the time.

It’ like the guy who became a Christian and said, "Pastor, every part of me got saved except my right foot." "Your right foot?  What do you mean?" "I mean that the hardest part of me to submit is my lead foot when I’m driving my car."

Integrity says I may not like the law, but I will obey it. Integrity says I may not like the person in the office, but I will honor the position. Integrity says I may not like direction the nation is going, but I will pray for God’s intervention. Integrity says I will obey God first, even if it means that I suffer the penalty for doing the right thing.

#3) In the Work Place, Stand for What is Right:

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." (1 Peter 2:18). 

Slavery was prevalent in the Roman Empire. Some 60 million people were slaves. They were not considered persons, but rather property of their owners. While we don’t have this form of slavery in our country today, this verse is still applicable. Allow me to change two words. "Employees, be subject to your employers with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward." 

As believers in Christ, our integrity goes to work with us. It manifests itself in the way we treat our boss, our clients, and fellow employees. It, also, manifests itself in the way we respond to the company’s procedures and policies, and to difficult and sometimes unjust assignments, and the work place, itself. It further manifests itself in our attitude and convictions and honesty we display at our place of work. Remember, those people are watching.

I read about a salesman who was on the brink of retirement and was involved in a potential sale that could possibly net him a hundred thousand dollar commission. Not a bad way to go out. The only problem was, in order to make the deal work; he would have to be somewhat deceptive when he presented the product to the customer. But upon consideration concerning his integrity he decided to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. He told the customer the complete truth, and it cost him the sale. But he did what was right.

Two friends owned an extremely profitable business. They put it up for sale, and gave their word that, pending a few details they would sell to a particular buyer. They made this commitment on a Friday. However, over the weekend they received another offer that would have netted them an enormously higher profit. Unsure of what they should do, they spent the rest of the weekend praying with their wives. By Sunday night they all agreed that their word must be their bond. On Monday morning, they called the second buyer and turned down his better offer. They did what was right.   

And #4) And last, In Suffering Events, Seek God. 

"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully." (1 Peter 2:19).

The greatest test of integrity is how we respond to suffering. Nothing reveals one’s character quicker than problems and pain. That’s one of the reasons why God allows it. When we go through suffering it really reveals what we’re like. 

It has been said, "Christians are like tea bags, one doesn’t know what they’re like inside until they are in hot water."

As long as we live on this planet, we will experience suffering. We will have problems. We will have pain. The question is: how do we deal with it? People are watching to see just how we react to the misfortunes and sufferings of this world. During suffering seek God. ‘Don’t ask, "Why is this happening to me?" Instead, ask, "What are you trying to teach me?" Be conscious of God.

Here are the facts:  Our integrity is put to the test everyday, in virtually every situation. We are being watched closely to see how we will respond. The choice of our walk matching our talk, our behavior matching our beliefs, our character matching our confession is left to us. What will we do? The Bible says, "Having your conversation honest."

Let’s decide to live the Christian life in more than name only but in our everyday manner of living. What about you today, will you say yes to the Lord in this matter of integrity and being the Christian that you were saved to be? It’s up to you. Let’s pray.