Integrity Or Hypocrisy?

1 Timothy 6:13-16:
"I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus,
who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;
that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing
of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed
and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality,
dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see:
to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen
." (ASV)

When General Dean of the U.S. army, then a prisoner of the Chinese communists in Korea,
heard a rumor that he was to be shot by the enemy soon.
So, he sat down to wrote a letter to his wife.
In the letter, he asked her to convey his last words to his son,
"Tell Bill that the word is integrity."

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: "The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.
Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field,
in an army, or in an office."


Roy L. Smith said: "The man who cannot believe in himself cannot believe in anything else.
The basis of all integrity and character is whatever faith we have in our own integrity
."

Samuel Johnson said: "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless,
and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful
."

Mark Twain had some wonderful things to say concerning integrity.
He said this: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
He also said: "Always do right, this will gratify most people and astonish the rest."

The word, "integrity," is derived from the Latin, "integer," which means untouched, whole or entire.
Integrity is the state of being complete, whole or unbroken.
One who lacks integrity has failed to mature spiritually, socially and morally.
He or she has not fully learned the benefits of integrity and the long- term negative consequences
of when one acts without it.

Integrity doesn't put on a false front.
Integrity doesn't wear a mask.
Integrity means that a person is absolutely honest.
There is no lying, stealing, cheating, or any deception in integrity.
Integrity describes a person who is worthy of complete trust.

Integrity has the courage to say, "no".
Integrity has the courage to face the truth.
Integrity does the right thing because it is right.
Integrity always says only what is meant.
Integrity avoids gossiping.

"Wrong is wrong -- even if everyone is doing it.
Right is right -- even if no one is doing it
."
-- Source unknown

Integrity means that you confront problems when it would be easier to walk away.
Proverbs 27:5-6 says, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses
."

Integrity means keeping a promise when you would rather not.
Psalm 15:4 says, "He who keeps his oath even when it hurts."
The man of integrity keeps his promise even when he would rather not.

How do you do that?
When you sign a contract, you are making a promise.
When you use a credit card, you are making a promise.
When you sign up to do something, you are making a promise.
When you say you are going to join something, you are making a promise.
When you set an appointment, you are making an promise.
When you say you are going to teach a class, you are making a promise.
When you say you will be there, you are making a promise.
And the person of integrity keeps his promises even when he would rather not

I truly believe that most people would like to think that they have integrity.

Employers expect integrity in their employees.
They must be able to trust them, and depend upon them.
Husbands expect their wives to have integrity, and wives expect the same of their husbands.

When a person, lies, and cheats, they cause other people not to trust them.
I have known husbands who cheated on their wives, and truly be ashamed of their affair.
I had one husband plead with his wife to forgive him.
He said that he would even go to the altar the next Sunday, and get on his knees before
the entire congregation, if she would take him back.

That persuaded her, and she allowed him to come back.
But she never trusted him again.
The marriage was over.

Respect and integrity grow in importance in marriage.
I think of that wonderful poem by Roy Croft that says, "I love you, not only for what your are,
but for what I am when I am around you
."
What a wonderful expression of respect for a husband and wife.
That phrase becomes much more meaningful when a couple grows closer together.

We must spend more time in thinking and praying about the importance to have integrity
in our lives.

Every Christian should have integrity.
This is especially needed when we're under pressure.
If we are two-faced, and if we say one thing, but mean another.
It damages our witness, and could cause people to disregard the great Gospel message
that we should be exemplifying.

But there are times in your life when you stop and think about having integrity.
Sometimes, it comes at the end of a chapter of your life.
Sometimes, it comes after a crisis in your life.
Sometimes it comes after you have accomplished most all your goals.

And sometimes, it comes after you have violated a basic principle in life and embarrassed
yourself or someone close to you.
After those times, you have asked the questions: "Do I have integrity in my life?"

It is vitally important that we know who we are, and, especially who we are before God.
We must take responsibility for what we have done or said.
We must honor our vows -- our promises.
We must obey the Golden Rule.
We must be true to our walk with God even when it may costs us.
We must treating each person we encounter with respect.
We must do our best never to leave the wrong impression.
We must absolutely refuse to misrepresent a situation, a statement, or any other reality.

The life of Jesus was a life of integrity.
He taught the highest of principles, and then, lived His life accordingly.
He was the same to everyone.
He was the same on every occasion.
He was openly honest.
He hid nothing, and never had a reason to be ashamed.
His life was such a contrast with the Pharisees that their hatred and jealousy
ultimately brought His death.

We must pray to be more like Jesus!
This would be a giant step in living a life of integrity

The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity, and this is precisely what Jesus accuses the Pharisees
and teachers of the law of in Matthew 23:13,15,23,24,27,29.
Six times in this sermon, he calls them, "hypocrites."

Originally, a hypocrite meant an actor who put on a mask to assume a false identity
while he played a role for the audience.
This accusation would be really be offensive to the Pharisees who hated all forms
of Hellenization, including the Greek theatre.
Jesus was calling them the very thing that they hated.

Jesus said to them:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one,
you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are
…."

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside
are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside
you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness….
You snakes! You brood of vipers!
How will you escape being condemned to hell
?"

Then, in the 22nd chapter of Matthew, we see some of the religious leaders who had no integrity.
We read in Matthew 22:15-17: "Then went the Pharisees, and took council as to
how they might ensnare Him in His conversation.
."

They had a murderous motive behind their action.
"And they send to him their disciples, with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know
that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for any man:
for thou regardest not the person of men
.'"
Their compliments were compelling, but they were hypocritical.

Then, they sprang the trap on Him.
"Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?"
(Matt. 22:15-17).

Their evil motives intended to trap Him with their hypocritical words.
They presented Him with a difficult dilemma.
If He said that they should pay the taxes to Caesar, the Jewish people would be alienated;
If He said they shouldn't pay the taxes, the Roman government leaders would be after Him.

Jesus escaped their trap by saying: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's;
and unto God the things that are God's
," (Matt-, 22:21).

Hyprocrisy has no place in the life of a Christian.
Jesus says in v. 41, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye',
when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye
."

This teaching shows us the humor of Jesus.
Take a look at the picture that Jesus pictured.

The word, "plank", in Greek, means a large load-bearing beam.
Load bearing beams are massive planks that run horizontal and support the load of the ceiling
and of the floors above.
Think of one of those 2' x 4's sticking out of your eye.
That would get your attention.
if you saw someone with a large plank stuck in someone's eye, you would not be able
to stop looking.

We should recognize a hypocrite when we see one.
A hypocrite is someone who puts on a mask, and pretends to be someone he or she is not.

Some years ago, the Salvation Army, when morals standards were being ignored,
put up signs all over the city, which read, "God sees behind the mask."
In the Bible, Eve tried to mask her selfishness. (Genesis 3:1-6)
Cain tried to mask his envy. (Genesis 4)
David tried to mask his lust. (2 Samuel 12:9-19)
Judas tried to mask his greed. (Matthew 26:14-16), 27:3-5)

Most of us wear masks.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of "The Scarlet Letter", describe said it this way,
"No man can for any considerable time wear one face to himself and another to the multitude
without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one
."

This is the danger of hypocrisy when a person has been wearing a mask for so long
that he is not aware that he is wearing a mask.
This person has no idea who he really is.

Some have been wearing a religious mask for so long that they are not even aware
that they are wearing a mask.
I knew a young man who was called to preach, and immediately, his voice changed
into a deep "preacher's voice."
He was never aware that he was wearing a mask.

Wearing masks can kill you.
If a person is not careful, that person's biography can become one's troubles.
Repressed anger and the hypocrisy of wearing masks can really cause sickness.
For what is eating you, is really eating you.
Peeling off a mask can be very very painful
They tend to grow so tightly that they stick to your flesh.

Open honesty, no false-front, no mask, is desperately needed in world today.
As Christians, we must live so that people will be able to trust us fully and completely.
There must not be any deception.

So, how do we remove our masks and have genuine integrity?
Well, we can start by forgiving those who have hurt us.
I don't believe that a person can have a close walk with God while refusing to forgive others.
God's Word tells us that we are to forgive one another.
We are to forgive as God has forgiven us.
We are to bear with one another and care for one another.
When we forgive others, we are more like Jesus.

I grew up in a small church in a small neighborhood where people knew everyone,
and knew everything about everyone.
As a young man growing up in that church i knew that there was two ladies who
sung in the choir every Sunday -- but they would not speak to each other.
These ladies held such great grudges against each other that they made everyone
around them uncomfortable.
They hid behind their mask, and no one was fooled.

Refusing to forgive is disabling.
It is like putting a wall around yourself that prevents you from moving forward.
So, remove the mask and let the healing power of forgiveness begin.

Are you wearing a mask?
Are you pretending to be someone that you're not?
Are you pretending to "have it all together," but in reality, your "all togethers" are falling apart?
You would never want people to see the "real you", the person behind the mask.
You would be embarrassed if it was known that you are just a hypocrite wearing a mask.

So, we wear our masks, and go about our life, and when friends ask how we are, we smile and declare, "Great! How are you?"

People often wear masks to conceal their deepest innermost issues.
This hides them from others as they fear their disapproval.
People wear masks to conceal things they don't want others to know about them.
Often, people feel that they must present themselves a certain way in order to fit in at church.
So, there are Christians who wear their masks to hide their guilt and shame.
Sometimes, they wear their happy mask to hide their fears, their anger, their hurts, their resentments,
their worries, and their depression.

But we know that the masks are uncomfortable because they force us to stay
on our guard, and we have to weigh everything that we say and do.
Masks cause us to keep our from others, this prevent us from opening up and having
meaningful relationships.
.
But the church is a place where the masks should come off for the church should be
a place where we worship and serve with integrity.
God's house is the place where we should bring the undesirable things in our life
and lay them out before our heavenly father.
We should not be concerned about what others think, but only about what God knows.

God sees through the mask.
God sees the real you and me .
He sees all the flaws and mistakes and failures, and yet He loves us completely and unconditionally.

Isn't it comforting to know how much He loves us?
He knows us.
He knows our real motives.
He knows all of our ways.
He knows our every thought, every worry, every joy, every hurt.

There is no mask that will who we really are Him.
With God, we can stop pretending.
We can take off our mask, and His blessings that He has for us.

It is time to take off the mask!
God delights in helping everyone of us to remove our mask.
He will enable us see ourself as we are, and He will enable us to see what we can be.
He knows the emptiness and loneliness and the stress that comes with wearing a mask.
Let us be sure that we are not playing the role of a hypocrite.

I read about a lady who volunteered to help out at the church office.
While working on the church newsletter, she read the names on the mailing list,
and noticed a number of people who had drifted away.

She picked up the phone and began calling them.
She would say: "We've been missing you at church.
Why don't you come back next Sunday
?"

She called one man, and got nowhere.
The next week, she called him again with the same result.
The following week she tried again.

Finally he said, "Don't you get it? I'm not going back to that church.
There are too many hypocrites in the congregation
."

She laughed and said, "Yeah, you're right about that.
We have a church full of hypocrites.
But we always have room for one more
."

At that the man began to laugh.
The next week he was back in church.
After that, he was back almost every Sunday.

Every church that I have pastored, with one exception, has had politicians in its membership.
I can honestly say that each one of them had integrity and was true to his faith in Christ.
But our news media reminds us often of politicians who have no integrity.

One senator was quoted as saying,
"Some of my friends are for it; some of my friends are against it.
And I'm for my friends
!"
Now that is hypocrisy!

Someone has said that hypocrites and crabs are creatures who move in such a way
that it is impossible to tell whether they are coming or going!

We have what someone has called a integrity deficit disorder.
We have no need in our lives or our churches for hypocrisy.
We must remember that we are Christians, and we should want show the world
that we belong to Christ and be the examples that God expects us to be.

I read about a police officer who pulled a driver over, and asked for his license and registration.
"What's wrong, officer," the driver asked. "I didn't go through any red lights,
and I certainly wasn't speeding
."

"No, you weren't," said the officer, "but I saw you waving your fist as you swerved around
the lady driving in the left lane, and I further observed your flushed and angry face
as you shouted at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and how you pounded
your steering wheel when the traffic came to a stop near the bridge
."

"Is that a crime, officer?"

"No, but when I saw the 'Jesus loves you and so do I' bumper sticker on the car,
I figured this car had to be stolen
."

The fruit of the Spirit must be manifested daily in our lives, and in all we do and say.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control?
Does your daily life reflect the fruit of the Spirit?

The Gospel According to You

"You're writing a gospel chapter a day
By the deeds that you do and the words that you say.
Men read what is written whether faithless or true
So, tell me what is the gospel according to you.

Many are searching, so lost and confused
By the view of religion as seen in the news.
Is it wealth or approval or how good you feel
Will you point them to Jesus by the thing that you do.

The prince of the darkness the father of lies
The master deceiver would have them believe.
There are many paths to heaven they've only to choose
But tell me what will they hear if they listen to you.

Chorus:
Do you speak of your Savior do you tell of His grace?
Are the fruits of His spirit clearly seen on your face?
Do you speak of His mercy and atonement for sin
And a heavenly home to all who come in?

You're writing a gospel chapter a day
By the deeds that you do and the words that you say.
Men read what is written whether faithless or true
So tell me what is the gospel according to you.
So tell me what is the gospel according to you
."
-- Written by Richard Johnson

Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White