Genuine Integrity by Dr. Jack Hayford
Dear Loved One,
As we enjoy the changes that autumn brings, I’m reminded of one particular morning when I was nine years old. My mother said something to me that, for over 70 years now, has impacted my life. Calling me into the kitchen as I was about to leave for school she said, “Jack, when you came home from your friend Dickey’s house yesterday, I sensed you’d gotten into some mischief and I want to ask you about it. But before I do, I want to tell you, I’m asking you this in front of Jesus . . . ”
Even at that young age, I was already familiar with the phrase; I’m asking you this in front of Jesus. Mama often used it with us kids when we’d done something we might be tempted to hide. But on that particular morning it hit me in a startling way.
I suddenly realized I truly was standing before God’s throne. The One who sees the very secrets of our hearts had witnessed what I’d done and was listening to what I was about to say!
I knew instantly what my response must be.
“Well, mama, here’s what happened,” I said . . . and I proceeded to confess my transgression with utter transparency. The details of a nine-year-old boy’s mischief would likely sound funny to some in our culture today, but at the time, it wasn’t a funny moment.
It was a moment of eternal significance. The moment when a Spirit-filled mother helped open her son’s eyes to the fact that we live our whole lives before Jesus and the only way to prosper is to be completely honest before Him. The only way to fully walk in His blessing is to live before Him in integrity of heart.
The Key to Fulfilling God’s Call on Your Life
Nothing is of greater importance to our heavenly Father than integrity of heart. Ever since that life-altering morning in the kitchen, it’s been my highest priority. It’s the first thing I point to when anyone inquires about the grace on my life. It’s what I emphasize when young believers ask me what they can do to make sure they fulfill their divine call. Instead of giving them formulas, I encourage them, first and foremost, to live with integrity of heart.
What exactly is integrity of heart?
As it’s used in the Bible, integrity means completeness, simplicity, and wholeness. Translated in the Old Testament from the Hebrew word tom, it speaks of unity; of something that’s not splintered or fragmented but is brought together into one. Put another way; if you remove even the slightest bit, you no longer have integrity.
In the New Testament, the word integrity is closely akin to the word peace. Derived from the Greek word eiro, it’s the word the Apostle Paul used the in Colossians 3:15 when He said:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Peace in that verse means joined together in a way that produces quietness and rest. It refers to the absence of inner conflict we experience when our hearts are united with the will of God; when we’re open to the Holy Spirit’s correction and living honestly, as my mother would say, in front of Jesus.
When God Overrides Your Mistakes
I can tell you both from the Bible and from experience, God can do amazing things for us when we’re living that condition! He can override our mistakes and bless us in spite of ourselves. He can perfect that which concerns us, not because we’ve done everything perfectly, but because hearts are right before Him.
If you want to see an example of this read Genesis 20 about King Abimelech. He made an almost unthinkable mistake that should have cost him his life. If you know the story, you probably remember what he did: One time when Abraham and Sarah were sojourning through his country, he took Sarah away from Abraham and added her to his harem.
Given that Abraham was a prophet of God, such an act was unthinkable! But Abimelech didn’t know what he was doing.
He didn’t realize Abraham and Sarah were married. They’d told him they were brother and sister. So he thought he was just taking a good looking woman from her brother.
In the culture of Abimelech’s day, this was an acceptable thing to do, so God had mercy on him and intervened. He spoke to him in a dream and said, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife” (v. 3).
Abimelech was totally shocked. “Lord!” he cried—
“Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister?’ And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said . . . “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.” (vv. 4-6)
That story reveals a principle that applies to all of us: When our heart is right before God and we start to do something that will bring destruction either to us or to anyone else, He’ll intervene on our behalf. He’ll warn us and prevent us from making a decision that would do permanent damage. Abimelech was far from a perfect man, yet God saw his integrity of heart!
Talk about good news! We all need that kind of divine intervention and prevention at times in our lives. And it’s one of the great benefits of living in integrity of heart.
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect for God to Come to Your Defense
Another great benefit of integrity of heart is this: It helps protect us from our adversaries in times of trouble. It paves the way for us to pray like David did in Psalm 25:
Consider my enemies, for they are many . . . Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me . . . (Ps. 25:19-21)
David prayed that prayer when, as king of Israel, he was surrounded by hostile forces. They were crowding in on him from every side and he didn’t have enough military might to defend the nation’s borders. “Lord, I don’t have enough troops,” he said. “I don’t have the resources to guard against every possible attack, so I’m asking You to be my Protector because I’ve walked in integrity and You know my heart.”
God answered that prayer for David and He’ll answer it for you, too. When your heart is right before Him and the enemy seeks to encroach upon you, He’ll alert you. He’ll come to your defense. He’ll guard you, guide you, and show you the path of deliverance.
Integrity of heart won’t ensure your perfection, but it will ensure your protection by the hand of God!
From Prevention . . . to Protection . . . to Promotion in the Plan of God
Here’s a third thing God will do for you when you’re living honestly before Him. He’ll keep expanding and advancing you. He’ll keep moving you forward in His plan. The Lord can’t promote you if you don’t obey Him and repent when he corrects you. He can’t push you ahead by force and steamroll you into His will for your life. But He can fulfill for you the promise He made to Solomon.
If you walk before Me in integrity of heart and in uprightness . . . then I will establish you. I will perpetuate the work of the Kingdom I’ve begun in you. (1 Kgs. 9:4-5)
What’s the secret to walking in this kind of integrity of heart? How can you make sure you maintain it?
The number one thing you can do is spend time with the Lord every day. No matter how busy you are, before you turn out your light at night make sure you’ve read your Bible and listened for the voice of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I suggest you read one chapter each day. Then, when He gives you direction, write it down in a journal. Then hold yourself accountable for what He said by sharing it with another believer. Being open with someone else will help you stay spiritually healthy and open to God.
There are also other vital things you can do to cultivate integrity of heart, of course. But I can’t fit them all in a letter!
So as a thank you gift for your support this month, I want to send you a helpful resource on 2 CDs, “Genuine Integrity.” These two messages will help heighten your awareness that you’re living daily before Jesus. And they’re filled with Scriptural truths that will help you press on to higher levels of integrity in your relationship with Him.
All of us here at the ministry appreciate you so much and thank God for your help in sharing the Gospel of Jesus. May you enjoy His wonderful presence in the days ahead and as you celebrate His goodness may “the peace of God rule in your heart, to which also you were called” (Col. 3:15).
Praising Him Always for His Grace,
Genuine Integrity by Dr. Jack Hayford