“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – C.S. Lewis
Sailboating looks like a whole lot of fun to me. A day on the open water sailing out to Shell island or other places around Panama City accompanied by mild winds and calm seas seems like a wonderful experience. On the other hand, because battling with nature is not high on my list of sailing preferences, taking the right steps at the right time to pilot the boat to your destination is critical in good and bad weather. The ability to predetermine what is right, doing it consistently and with grace was the core of the message on Sunday.
As Christians, we also need to do the right things at the right time. James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Doing the right things will change your steps in life and how you choose to walk in them. So the questions are: “Am I doing the right things? How can I be sure I am doing the right things? And how do I do them with grace?”
In the story of the Fiery furnace and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the three men predetermined what was the right response ahead of time. They didn’t wait until the moment of truth to decide what their course of action was. And even more importantly, they chose to trust and follow God no matter what the circumstances were, which in this case was being burned alive. We too need to predetermine our response. This is done by remembering the attributes of God: perfect holiness, righteousness, justice, goodness, love, mercy, grace, faithfulness and truthfulness. If we base our actions on these attributes we will make better decisions. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
The goal is to do right all of the time. Doing what is right even when everybody else is doing something different and even when nobody is looking. You can do the right thing when you focus on the greatness of God and remind yourself for who you are living for. We need to learn to sort through and decide what input we will allow to influence our decisions and reject or disallow those sources that cause us to choose to do wrong. Think and reflect upon any tendency to make bad choices over and over again. Find that reason, source, or input and use that as a lesson for the future. Begin to review your decisions before you make them and then make the right decisions.
And when you do the right thing, do it with grace and love. We spend a lot of time on what grace is, but not as much on what grace does. Grace changes us in so many ways. It is more than being forgiven and going to heaven. Grace is also the changes in our hearts and attitudes. Grace is the voice that calls us to change, and then gives us the power to pull it off. And that includes doing the right things the right way. We can show grace because God is with and in us. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond. In those moments, we need to do the right things with grace. And we need to choose to keep a positive attitude and thankful heart regardless of what we’re going through. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- How do you define “Integrity?” Are there degrees of doing what is right? How does doing what is right affect the way you feel about yourself?
- How do you decide what is right and what is wrong? Is it hard to predetermine what is the right thing to do? Why or why not?
- In what area do you need to make better decisions? How does grace enter into the decision making process?
- In what ways does grace play a role in doing what is right? Does grace change the way we look at what is right?
- Random acts of kindness go a long way. You can make a difference in someone’s life today. Share kind random acts with others. Do it in love. Be a blessing to someone.