Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:33-34
Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Over the years this definition of integrity has become extremely popular in capturing what integrity looks like. Even though there is a great deal of truth to the statement, the definition in and of itself is incomplete.
Our mind can go in a thousand different directions regardless of whether we are in a crowded room or all by ourselves behind closed doors. The size of the audience is of little significance. The deceptiveness of our thinking and the allure of our heart doesn’t care who surrounds us.
In fact, when we are all alone, the tension of walking in integrity becomes even more heightened. Isolation is a formidable enemy of integrity. We can go so far down a rabbit hole of thought that we can convince ourselves that anything is a good decision. We can rationalize our behavior and twist the truth to fit our agenda.
This creates chaos in our hearts. Sometimes these actions and thoughts see the light of day, other times they do not. Regardless, the longer we live deceiving ourselves, the more our soul dies. A lost soul isn’t a destination; it’s a condition.
Because we want to be seen as good people, we wrestle with what to do with these thoughts and actions that happen behind closed doors. We worry that if we exposed our true self people would think less of us. Will people love the real us? Due to this uneasiness, many of us spend a good portion of our lives pretending. We fake it until we can make it.
The erosion of our integrity first shows up in our frustration. We are unsettled and discontent. This frustration slowly moves its way into our connections with others and poisons our relationships. We compete and compare. One of the primary reasons why we struggle to see God working in our lives is because our eyes focus on what everyone else is doing.
As soon as our contentment wanes, our eyes go searching for everything and anything to get it back. Rather than turning towards God and asking Him what He’s trying to teach us through this tension, we set our gaze to the world in hopes it has the answers we are looking for. Destination thinking begins to set in, and we reason if we can just get this or that then we will be content. But, our contentment isn’t going to be found in anything we achieve, own or do. God is the only one who has the strength to make our heart content.
When Jesus speaks of seeking the kingdom of God above all else, He is reminding us how important our eyes are to integrity. We are likely to see what we are looking for so seek first His Kingdom. It’s impossible to want two competing things at the same time so where we remain makes a big difference. To remain in God takes tenacity and grit. It requires us to stay put and to hold on tight. It means bringing our whole self to our entire life and having the courage to be seen by all.
- Think of the places where you are experiencing discontentment. What seems to be fueling this tension?
- Why do you believe God is trying to get your attention in this circumstance? What could He be teaching you in the midst of what you are going through?
God, help me to realize that I live my life for an audience of ONE and that is YOU. Shine a light on where discontentment reigns in my heart and give me the courage to confront those places. Today I want to remain connected to You. Remind me that this connection is one that matters above all else. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.