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Integrity in Hidden Places, Day 1- Introduction

Week 1 of Integrity Study
Integrity in Hidden Places
Day 1- Introduction
Wendi Colaiuta

I picked up my phone to check the recipe one more time. Willing to take a risk baking something new for a weekend event, I braved unfamiliar territory. As is true with many online recipes, I found myself scrolling and scrolling to find the actual recipe, navigating pop-up ads and skimming any preliminary information. When I reached “IMPORTANT TIPS” in big, bold letters, I stopped scrolling. This was experienced, inside information I did not want to ignore!

“Be sure to use high quality, pure vanilla. It will make all the difference in the texture and flavor of your finished product.” The list continued with key instructions to not overmix and not overbake, but that first directive caught my attention and sent me searching for my little bottle of vanilla to inspect its label.

Variations of “vanilla” can look very much the same—similar liquid, dark brown in color with a slight undertone of amber, packaged in similar dark brown bottles and similar little boxes with the word “VANILLA” in big letters. But not all substances labelled “VANILLA” are the pure essence of vanilla; many are diluted versions or even imitations that mimic the flavor of vanilla. The less obvious details make all the difference—the properties of a substance that are not apparent to the naked eye or the small print on the packaging that clarifies its contents.

To produce a high-quality, enjoyable treat, this recipe required the real thing! Pure ingredients were the only option. A finished product of integrity needed to start with components of integrity.

The same can be said about our hearts. Integrity in the less obvious, hidden places matters! Our character traits need to be pure so that anything flowing from our hearts can also be pure. Integrity, then, makes all the difference.

So, what exactly is “integrity”?

In the dictionary, integrity is described in these ways:
*the state of being whole and undivided, solid, pure
*the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
*upright, honest, proper, of good character, ethical, loyal, moral, noble, virtuous, sincere, truthful, trustworthy
*a person of integrity takes responsibility for their actions, keeps promises, produces high quality work, faithfully carries out all of the above whether or not anyone else recognizes or reciprocates those attitudes or actions, and values doing what is right above personal gain
*true character is seen in the choices one makes when no one is watching
*to maintain integrity is to express or preserve something in its purest form—not contaminated, not diluted, not damaged or diminished in any way, structurally and/or philosophically sound, unshaken, steadfast, reliable

These descriptors of integrity remind us of timeless biblical standards:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV)

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8, NLT)

“The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity.” (Proverbs 10:29, NLT)

Do we think, speak, and act with integrity? Are we genuine, kind, compassionate, putting others’ needs above our own? Are our motives pure? Are we honest and reliable at every turn, regardless of who is watching or what that faithfulness might cost us?

Do we evaluate our own hearts with integrity? Are our thoughts and desires trustworthy? Do those intentions reflect the Lord’s will for us?

Do we approach the Lord with integrity? In His presence, our hidden places are laid bare. We cannot hide. He sees all; He knows all. In His kindness He strips away any song-and-dance, any foolish attempts we may make to present an image we think is acceptable.

Our God wants to reach the heart of the matter, the core of our beings, our souls. His Spirit works to transform us from the inside out, so our hearts (character, attitudes, and actions) will match His, in every sense. He takes frail, fickle, flawed humans and builds men and women of integrity, marked by the purest form of each fruit of His Spirit.

The Lord Jesus is our greatest example. Hebrews tells us He is “the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3, NIV). Other translations include these phrases: He “expresses the very character of God” (NLT), “the exact imprint of His nature” (ESV), “His substance” (BLB), and “the perfect imprint of His essence” (Amplified).

To operate with integrity is to accurately reflect the Father’s heart. The Son did this perfectly! Even in His most difficult moments, Jesus demonstrated integrity before His Father.

The strength of our integrity is often tested when we are at our weakest. But, following our Savior’s example, we can prove the beauty of obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8), and we can experience the truth that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The true essence of the vanilla on my baking shelf may be difficult to discern at first glance. But its qualities are made known in the mixing, crushing, and exposure to the heat of the oven. Only pure vanilla will produce the sweetest dessert.

When we are pressed and exposed to the heat of life’s trials, what hidden components of our hearts will be made known? What does integrity look like as we navigate the demands of personal and professional relationships, finances, or education? How can we explore interests and leisure entertainment with integrity? How can we allow God’s Spirit to grow and refine us, transforming us into images of His Son, children of God who reflect His heart, who carry themselves with integrity?

Join us on for this two-week study as we delve into these questions!

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