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Integrity matters, and it matters more than it used to, and it matters more than we know. It was a matter that was close to Jesus' heart and a matter that we need to spend a lot more time and energy addressing than we already do.

There are three things that I believe passionately about integrity;

- Integrity is about our outside actions reflecting our inside affections.
- The internal affection and posture of our heart drives our external behavior. Therefore, becoming people of integrity is primarily about heart transformation more than it is a behavioral adjustment.
- To have integrity before God, the affections and posture of our heart must value what He values.

All of us have a long way to go when it comes to living with the level of integrity that we need. As I have recently been studying Matthew 15:1-20 (Click on the link to read scripture), I see Jesus raising some questions for us that can help us align the affections of our hearts with His.

1) Does your integrity stand the test of delegations? Here a delegation is sent to check Jesus out (vs.1). They are trying to discredit him by saying that he is without integrity. This is not the first delegation that Jesus has faced, but he can withstand all of their accusations because he is living with integrity. If somewhere were to question your integrity, what would they find?

2) Is your integrity based on God's word? Jesus doesn't answer their question, but it raises the issue of authority—Your tradition Vs. What God says (vs.3). He is highlighting to them that their traditions had become more important than God. Integrity should always be founded on what God said is true.

3) What are some of the inputs you are putting into your life doing to your heart? Jesus explained to the gathered that defilement is not an external matter but an internal one (vs10/11). To live with integrity, we must monitor the 'inputs' into our lives. What are you watching, clicking on, or reading? Whose voice is speaking the loudest to you?

4) Does who you are following know where they are going? We all follow someone. The teaching of the Pharisees will eventually be uprooted (13); thus, we'd be silly to follow, listen or regard their teaching. To do so is like the blind leading the blind (14). A way to determine a truthful teacher is to look at their motives. Is it for the glory of God? For integrity to be built, it is essential to follow someone who can see where they are going!

5) Have you stopped recently to reflect on your level of integrity? Peter is struggling to understand what Jesus is talking about and so asks for clarification. It was vital that Peter fully understood this issue because he would have to speak to it later in his ministry (Acts 10:9-15). Integrity always involves more understanding (vs. 15). What good questions do you need to ask of yourself and others?

6) Is your integrity growing stronger? The phrase "still without understanding" (vs16) would seem to insinuate that growth in integrity is a process. Is your integrity getting stronger? Is it starting to dominate your character? It becomes more of who you are.

Integrity makes a difference – in the world and before God. As you ask yourself these questions, answer them honestly, praying that God would make you a person of greater character. Live with integrity.

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