Friday, November 21, 2008

Removing the Mask: Living with Integrity

It seemed like a great “opportunity” at the time to save some money. We had just purchased a house in January, 2005. The house inspection revealed that the furnace needed to be replaced in the near future. The inspector who confirmed this fact offered to give us a great deal – a new furnace with no GST which was 7% of total purchase price at that time.

What would we do? Considering our finances, this would be a great saving on an expensive item. I told the inspector that as a Christian, I could not agree to such a “deal”. That would be dishonest and sin in God’s sight. It would also be breaking the law of our nation. Even if I didn’t like the government taking more tax from me, I will still pay all that is required of me and honor God by doing this.

The furnace man was surprised by my response and asked: “Why are there so many religions?” I explained that religion is quite different from a relationship with God through personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. On that day, I had the privilege of sharing with him the way of salvation eternal life through Jesus! He began to understand that many people wear masks – they pretend – to be persons who act nice and obey the law but who are privately sinning or committing acts of dishonesty, manipulation and deceit.

The Bible reminds us of the importance of being a person of integrity and living with integrity. One dictionary defines “integrity” as the state of being “honest, complete and undivided.” Two events in the Bible illustrate how important integrity or honesty is to God. In ancient Israel, a man named Achan seized a beautiful robe, silver and gold from Jericho and hid them in the ground underneath his tent (Joshua 7:20-21). In doing so, Achan disobeyed God and demonstrates that the sin of one person can hurt and damage a whole congregation: “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things. Achan…took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel(Joshua 7:10)

Until he was confronted about his sin, Achan acted as if he had done no wrong. He was dishonest before God’s people and therefore also dishonest with God – he was wearing a mask. In response God took away the lives of Achan and his family.

A second event happened in the early church after Jesus returned to heaven. A couple named Ananias and Sapphira acted dishonestly by pretending to be sacrificial givers when this was not true. They gave some money for God’s work. That was good. But, they pretended that they gave all of the money from their land sale. That was very bad. They were also wearing a mask in front of God’s people. That is the same as being dishonest with God. The apostle Peter gives God’s verdict to them: “What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:4)

Let’s make sure that you and I remove our masks and live for God with integrity!

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