A Dependable Choice
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
I. Choose A Character You Can Count On: Faithfulness Is Dependable Character
A. Treacherous Character
- The petals of a daisy are often pulled apart and it is supposed to tell of the love of another to the one who is pulling the petals off. “He loves me, he loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not.” The unfaithful are like the petals in progress. One second, faithfulness is professed from the lips, but the next second, those words are replaced by words breaking that faithful profession and in the end, the flower is destroyed and there is nothing left to pin hopes and dreams on.
B. Trustworthy Character
Illust.: Newsweek (11/19/90) ran an article titled "Letters in the Sand," a compilation of letters written by military personnel to family and friends in the States during the Gulf War. One was written by Marine Corporal Preston Coffer. He told a friend, "We are talking about Marines, not the Boy Scouts. We all joined the service knowing full well what might be expected of us." He signed off with the Marine motto, Semper Fi, Latin for "always faithful."
The Bible says, "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2).
-- Richie Lewis in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
II. Choose The Control You Can Count On: Integrity Is Reliable Behavior
A. Swayed By Compromise*
Quote: If we are correct and right in our Christian life at every point, but refuse to stand for the truth at a particular point where the battle rages-then we are traitors to Christ.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Quote: The movie Nuremberg, based on the book Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, by Joseph Persico, is about a series of trials held in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945-46, in which former Nazi leaders were tried as war criminals by the International Military Tribunal.
In this scene, Nazi defendant Hans Frank (played by Frank Moore) is attempting to explain his actions to Army psychologist Gustav Gilbert (played by Matt Craven).
Frank explains, "I turned my diaries over to the Americans voluntarily. You see, they prove that I tried to resign as Governor General of Poland. I did not approve of the persecution of the Jews. Anyone reading my diaries, they will know what was in my heart. They will understand that such things I wrote about Jews, the orders I signed, they were not sincere."
"I believe you, Frank," says Gilbert. "And yet, you did do those things. How do you explain it? I don't mean legally; I'm not a lawyer or a judge. I mean how do you explain it to yourself?"
"I don't know," replies Frank. "It's as though I am two people: the Hans Frank you see here, and Hans Frank the Nazi leader. I wonder how the other Frank could do such things. This Frank looks at that Frank and says, 'You're a terrible man.'"
"And what does that Frank say back?" asks Gilbert.
Frank, appearing to plead for understanding, replies, "He says, 'I just wanted to keep my job.'"
B. Stabilized By Integrity*
Illust. The classic film It's a Wonderful Life celebrates George Bailey's contribution to his community. George, played by Jimmy Stewart, is a generous and compassionate proprietor of a local building and loan institution.
George offers loans to individuals denied by the bank headed by the greedy Mr. Potter. George helps countless young families move out of Potter-owned rentals and buy their own homes. Threatened by George and his loan company, Mr. Potter invites George to join his company. George sits in Mr. Potter's ornately carved chair, a symbol of Potter's success. A blazing fire roars in the fireplace, and the old miser sits in a wheelchair positioned in front of a massive desk. After offering George an expensive cigar, Potter paints a picture of the struggling life this young 28-year-old man, George Bailey, must have: a young wife, family needs, a business that is always struggling, and a salary of $40 a week.
"What's your point, Mr. Potter?" George asks.
"My point is I want to hire you," Potter responds. "I want you to manage my affairs and run my properties. George, I'll start you at $20,000 a year."
Shocked, George drops his lit cigar in his lap, and his eyes double in size. "$20,000 a year?" he asks in disbelief.
"You wouldn't mind living in the nicest house in town, buying your wife a lot of fine clothes, a couple business trips to New York a year…maybe once in a while Europe. You wouldn't mind that, would you, George?"
Looking over his shoulder, George asks, "You're not talking to someone else are you? This is me, George Bailey."
"I know who you are. George Bailey whose ship has just come in, providing he has enough brains to climb aboard."
George is enticed by the promise of materialistic security, though it would mean relinquishing his family business. Potter agrees to let George sleep on the decision for 24 hours and holds out his hand. As George grips the hand, he pulls back, coming to his senses.
"I don't need 24 hours. I know right now the answer is no. You sit around here, and you spin your little web, and you think the world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn't Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider."
Citation: It's a Wonderful Life (RKO Radio Pictures, 1946), written by Philip Van Doren Stern, directed by Frank Capra; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois
III. Choose The Counsel You Can Count On: Consistent Truth Is Dependable For Guidance*
A. Led To Destruction *
Quote: He who builds according to every man's advice will have a crooked house. --- Danish proverb
Quote: That which is often asked of God, is not so much his will and way, as his approval of our way. --- S. F. Smiley
B. Led With Confidence*
Quote: When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.
Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)
I was working for a company wanting to pay cash under the tyable without having to pay tax. For the sake of integrity, I had to report it, and was called a fool, but thereafter, the boss knew he could trust me to do the right thing.