We are in a series called “With God, Its Never Too Late.”
We talked about the fact that with God, it’s never too late for a new start and it’s never too late to hope.
This morning I want to talk to you about “Its Never Too Late to Do the Right Thing”.
What I mean by that is it’s never too late to show up and do what’s right.
The fact is that we don’t always do the right thing.
I am not trying to guilt anyone thins morning.
My focus is primarily on the word “integrity.”
Kouzes and Posner have written about leadership in the marketplace and they focus on best business practices.
They did a survey of 1,500 managers across the United States and they asked a question: “What’s the trait you most admire in a supervisor or leader?”
After compiling all the results they identified 225 different traits.
They categorized these traits into fifteen different categories and the number one thing managers look for in a leader was integrity.
Following close behind were words like “trustworthy,” “truthful,” “has character,” “lives by their convictions.”
The word “integrity” is an interesting word.
It means to live an integrated life, a life that is whole, consistent, without compartment or without fragmentation.
William Barclay said:
“Here’s a great eternal truth.
Life cannot be divided into compartments, some of which God is involved, others in which He is not involved.
There cannot be one kind of language in the church and another kind of language in the factory or office.
There cannot be one kind of conduct in the church and another in the business world.”
After the essential doctrine of salvation, once someone receives Christ as Savior the next most crucial doctrine is known as “the Lordship of Jesus Christ”.
This is the truth that Jesus is Lord, of leader, ruler over every single area of my life.
The Lordship of Christ needs to be integrated into every area of my world.
In other words my relationship with Christ should impact all my relationships, my finances, my thought life, how I raise my kids and the list goes on.
For a Biblical Christian there should be no component in my life which goes untouched by my relationship with the Jesus.
So if I'm going to live an integrated life, a life of integrity, then the discussion has to start with a focus in here - inside, it must be related to my soul and my character.
Integrity is first and foremost an inside job.
That means I have to pay attention to the development of my character.
Character is a moral compass for my life.
MY relationship with Christ is like spiritual GPS that helps me navigate through the minefields of life's decisions.
Christ is the true north.
So my relationship with Christ is what beings clarity about what’s right and then it lives me the will to do what’s right in the right way no matter what it costs me.
It tells us what we stand for and what we won’t stand for.
It informs you and people around you what you value most.
It means being the same person whether everybody’s looking or whether nobody’s watching.
It seems that our culture has missed this one.
Today in our culture there is an importance placed upon how you look, but so little attention is placed upon who you actually are.
The result of physical beauty, without moral beauty, the result of acquiring possessions without the sense of responsible stewardship is causing all kinds of depression, addictions and emptiness.
Just ask Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan two people who in our culture’s eyes have everything, they are the epitome of the American dream and yet their lives are on a self-destructive path.
Character does matters.
A good and fulfilled life is a life full of integrity, a life that is integrated with purpose and values.
Maybe the reason why character is ignored is because character is something that is forged in our life over the course of a lifetime.
There are no quick fix routes to take here.
You can’t cram for it like a final exam.
The deepest parts of our character are forged through the difficult times as we exercise faith and endure.
The good news is that with God, it’s never too late to start paying attention to your character.
It’s never too late to start living a life of integrity.
There are many places in the Bible we could turn to discover this.
The one I want to call your attention to this morning is found in the Old Testament.
It’s a true story.
It’s from the book of Daniel, the third chapter.
I am not going to read it all; you can read it later if you like.
It’s the story of an out of control king with an out of control ego.
One day this king, named Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of Babylon, came up with this great idea that what he thought would bring him more fame, his focus was on how he looked in eyes of people.
So he decided to build a ninety-foot image of himself – a statue.
Then he would mandate Nebuchadnezzar day, a day where everyone was required to bow down in front of the statue as a sign of loyalty and they were to worship his image.
So Nebuchadnezzar gives the mandate throughout the kingdom.
Oh, and by the way, the second part of the mandate was that any one who refused would be immediately executed.
So on Nebuchadnezzar day everyone is given the day off so they could participate in the day’s celebration.
The statue has been created and the mandate has gone out, the image is unveiled and king Nebuchadnezzar has instructed that when the band begins to play everyone is to fall to their knees.
So the notes begin to sound and everyone as far as you can see falls on their knees and begins to worship.
Everyone except three men; three young Jewish men.
These three men had been captured in Jerusalem and were taken to Babylon.
They were placed into training to become leaders in this new country.
They’re on the fast track in career development.
If they graduated, they would be set for life.
Humanly speaking they had absolutely nothing to gain by defying the king and they had a lot to lose.
So they refuse to bow down.
When Nebuchadnezzar finds out he is absolutely furious.
He has these three men brought to him.
I think from the context the king actually likes these guys.
Because he entertains a dialogue with them that goes something like this: Nebuchadnezzar says, “Boys, you’re not from these parts.
Maybe you didn’t understand the edict.
I built this ninety-foot image.
It’s a replica of me.
The deal is that when the band plays you are to get on your knees and worship.
Now maybe you didn’t understand that the first time so I'm giving you a second chance.
We’re going to strike up the band here in just a moment.
If you guys will fall down on your knees and worship, everything’s ok with me.”
Now I think many people would have given a lot of thought at this point; “Ok.
This is serious now.
We’ve all lodged our protest in support of the first two commandments, we did our part.
But the king seems real serious about this.
So why not just go along to get along.
After all just because we bow the knee in front of the statue, doesn’t mean it’s really in our hearts, we can still worship the true God in our hearts and outwardly compile with the rules.
But that’s not what happens in the story.
In fact, these three young men just simply say no, for integrities sake, they said no.
I don't know about you but there’s something in my spirit that resonates with people who live by their convictions.
They’re willing to stand and say, No. We won’t just go along to get along.
It’s not that they are a bunch or rabble-rousers who just like to protest stuff.
Sort of like those angry people on the news who just like to argue.
No, these guys up to this point have cooperated with the training program.
They could change their habits, without loosing their values; at least they could up to this point.
I don’t know about you but I'm attracted to people who have that kind of courage and conviction.
I don’t always have that myself.
I mean there have been days when I look back on times and some decisions I’ve made and I realize that I really didn’t live by what I said I believed.
My courage and convictions weren’t as strong as I wanted them to be at times.
But it is something that I strive for all the time.
There is something magnificent about integrity, something beautiful and powerful.
I am not talking about being perfect, always hitting 100, because that is not going to happen.