One year on a trip home for vacation, I visited an old friend from before I had become a Christian. His name was Brian. He was a beer drinking kind of guy, usually too much. Since my experience with him took place before I surrendered my life to Christ, our experiences together involved some of the same habits. He had heard that I had become a Christian and went into the ministry but had not talked to me until my visit.
When he answered my knock on the door, he was happy to see me. He welcomed me in and almost immediately, offered me a beer. I said no, but would have a soft drink if he had one. His response to my refusing a beer took me by surprise.
He said, “Oh come on. No one is here. Your superiors aren’t around, they won’t know and I won’t tell them. Come on, you can have just one beer.”
However, there were a lot of things Brian didn’t know.
He didn’t know that I didn’t even like the taste of alcohol.
He didn’t know that I never did like the taste of alcohol, and that the only reason I drank when I was younger was to be accepted.
He didn’t know that my salvation in Christ was very closely tied to being delivered out of a drinking lifestyle and my decision to not drink was a very personal decision between my Lord and me.
He didn’t know my superiors wouldn’t disapprove even if they did know I had taken a drink.
And he didn’t know about the power of transformation in Christ and that He had changed me from the inside out.
I never did have a beer because I had already made a decision to not drink alcohol long before I visited him that day. It represented my past and I had long since burned all of the bridges that would take me back to that part of my life.
When I gave my life to Christ, one of the aspects of “Me” that He overthrew was the integrity center of my life. Before Christ, I had almost no integrity. I’d lie. I’d cheat. I’d say I would be there and not show up. I acted out. I’d steal. I’d be someone I wasn’t. I’d let people down. I’d compromise most any principle for my own selfish purposes or to impress a friend.
But then Christ came in, and to quote a film star,” He turned me every which way but loose.” Suddenly, the integrity center of my life was woken up. When my friend expected I would drink in violation of my superior’s wishes, he was assuming that I was as non-integral as I was before I became a Christian. He expected, like most people do in situations like these, I would cave. He figured I was not drinking because I wanted to keep my job, or put on a front, or impress someone; and had nothing to do with the integrity of my heart.
As you can probably see, this story isn’t about drinking. It is about integrity. And I do not judge anyone in this area. But integrity is a lost character trait. None of us are completely genuine. We all have areas in our lives where we are tempted to be disingenuous. I do too. But to the degree that we allow Christ and His Spirit to have control in our lives, is the degree to which we are becoming real through and through.
How are you on the “Real-O-Meter”? How would you rate your integrity? On a continuum from one to ten with one being a complete lie, and ten being completely integral, how would you rate yourself? I would love to hear your comments. Go to my Facebook page where this blog is announced and list your scores and why you rated yourself the way you did. Be honest, it is part of the exercise.