Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let Nothing Compromise Your Integrity!

I recently spoke to a group of 40 men at an outdoor retreat in Wrenshall, Minnesota. These were primarily men who enjoy the great outdoors and its hunting and fishing. Of course I enjoy that kind of life experience as well.

A good hunter or fisherman must have proper equipment and make good decisions in order to enjoy success. Most fishermen could spend hours telling about all the fish they lost because of faulty equipment or poor judgments they made. The important thing is that they became better fisherman as a result of those experiences!

Character is developed much like we develop good fishing techniques. Most of us will try to avoid pain and adversity, but the truth is, pain is often necessary to purify and refine our character.

The Bible says, “We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience—and patience produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3, 4) We must have hope in this world. Hope is an anchor that will keep us from drifting into discouragement, futility, or despair.

The Scripture says that troubles will produce patience. And patience produces character. Another word for patience is long-suffering and forbearance. Do we fail in these areas? The answer is yes!

One thing that has tested my patience through years of fishing is what is called “line memory.” That’s when the line comes off the spool and ends in a giant snarl. A couple of things have helped keep the frustration level low is to (1) change the line on my reels often and (2) not waste time trying to unravel the snarls but to just cut it off.

The Living Bible paraphrases Romans 5:4: “Patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” Is your character strong and steady?

One of the greatest hindrances to integrity and character is hypocrisy. Integrity does not hold two standards. Integrity means that you are real! You are authentic! An old country preacher said it this way: “Be who you is, cuz if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t!” Our great challenge as Christians is to not compromise our integrity, no matter what the rest of the crowd might do. According to Psalm 7:8, God judges us according to our integrity! Character IS everything!

- Pastor Virgil Amundson