Published December 16, 2004
Titus 2:1, 11 - 3:8
Related Sunday School Lesson Family Bible Series, January 2
Every New Year's it happens: The peach in Atlanta drops, completing a countdown to the initiation of a fresh, new start. All across the state of Georgia people from all walks of life will make resolutions toward better living. But as Christians we can do so much more: Reflection ... contemplation ... examination! We look back on the previous year to evaluate. Then we must look forward to the coming year to plan.
Think About It ... What have I accomplished in the past year that will further God's Kingdom on this earth? Primarily, with how many people have I shared my faith and the hope I have in Christ?
This process is deeper than the proverbial "New Year's Resolution." It is an honest attempt to answer the questions "Is my life counting for Christ and His kingdom?" and "What do I need to adjust to make an even greater impact?" We must not allow our lives to float along in neutral, coasting towards whatever comes our way. Our lives need to be aligned with God's Word to have the greatest impact for His kingdom. In so doing, a casual Christian existence becomes instead a life of intentional Christianity. Intentional Christianity begins with a focus upon practicing integrity.
Integrity Comes From God (vs. 2:1, 11-15)
"For the grace of God has appeared ... instructing us to deny ungodliness ... to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12 NAS).
To live with integrity is to walk uprightly before God and man. The word "integrity" has the thought of "completeness," "wholeness," and "soundness." In order to practice integrity we must realize that completeness only comes from God. Human integrity begins when a person places faith in the grace of God through the atoning death of Jesus Christ for salvation (justification) and continues as one lives out that salvation day-by-day (sanctification). Integrity will be perfectly complete as one spends eternity with our Heavenly Father (glorification).
If we look for integrity in any source other than God, we are sure to be disappointed. God is the only One who can heal the shattered life of a sinner in such a way that we are stronger than ever. He does this through Jesus' work on the cross which redeems us from our sins.
Think About It ... At what specific moment can I honestly say that I acknowledged to God my total sinfulness and accepted the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the only payment worthy to cleanse me from my sin and to bring me into a right relationship with God?
Integrity Enhances Relationships (vs. 3:1-3)
" ... showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves ... " (Titus 3:2-3 NAS).
God's work in our life will ultimately impact the way we relate to other people. God has placed us in a world of varied relationships. Whether we are dealing with a family member, a church member, a work colleague, a neighborhood friend, or a casual acquaintance, we never have the luxury of treating them with disrespect or disdain.
In fact, the Bible calls us to walk with integrity before this world as we remember that we once were without Christ ourselves. A relationship with Christ will always affect our human relationships. We lie if we say we love God but treat others wrongfully (1 John 4:20).
Think About It ... Toward what person in my life do I need to ask God's help in changing my attitude and actions to show His love?
God Empowers Us to Act with Integrity (vs. 3: 4-8)
" ... so that those who have be-lieved God will be careful to engage in good deeds." (Titus 3:8 NAS).
Integrity does not come from our own strength. We cannot change the fundamental aspect of our own nature - in other words, who we are. But God can give us a new nature and fill us with His Spirit so we have the power to walk with Him and represent Him in this world. Christians were not saved to sit, soak and sour.
We have been created to not only enjoy our relationship with God but also to serve Him. The good works of our lives flow from the completeness we have in Christ.
Think About It ... How much time am I giving each day to listen to God's voice speak to me through the Scriptures and to talk to Him in prayer? What achievable change could I make in my daily schedule to allow at least a few more minutes each day for this?
Biblical Truth ... God empowers believers to practice integrity in their dealings with others.
A story is told of a newly promoted colonel who had moved into a makeshift office during the Gulf War. He was getting unpacked when out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a private coming his way with a toolbox.
Wanting to seem important, he grabbed the phone. "Yes, General Schwarzkoft, I think that's an excellent plan." He continued, "You've got my support on it. Thanks for checking with me. Let's touch base again soon, Norm. Goodbye."
"And what can I do for you?" he asked the private.
"Ahhh, I'm just here to hook up your phone," came the rather sheepish reply.
Often, we are so busy trying to impress others that we do not realize how much "play-acting" we are doing. Rather than honestly yielding ourselves to becoming genuine people of God, we constantly scurry to cover up the real person we are inside. It is God's desire to carve His image upon our hearts from the inside, out. God has called us to take off our masks of pretension and be men and women of integrity. When we do this, we live with an eye to gain God's approval more than man's.
Think About It ... What is there about my life today that if anyone else knew, I would be ashamed? What Christian can I trust to pray with me and offer me accountability while I seek God's grace in changing that area of my life?
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