Once upon a time there was a young pastor whose first church was in a small logging community in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone in the town worked for the logging mill, which was the only business and was involved in fierce competition with another mill just upstream. To get a break from his study, the pastor climbed up a slope overlooking the river. To his horror, he saw his church members pulling logs branded by the other mill from the river, cutting off the branded ends and running them through their own mill.
The next Sunday, he preached a powerful sermon called Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Property. After the service, the loggers shook his hand, patted his back and told him how much they enjoyed his preaching. However, the next week, they were back in business stealing their competitor’s logs. So, he fired off another scorching sermon called, Thou Shalt Not Steal.
Again he was commended for his powerful delivery and keen insights into the scriptures; but on Monday the other mill’s logs were still being swiped. Enough was enough. This time he decided not to hold anything back. The next Sunday he preached a message entitled Thou Shalt Not Cut the Branded Ends Off Someone Else’s Logs. Instead of hearing words of affirmation, he ran out of town!
Churches need integrity. What is integrity? A dictionary definition might read, “steadfast adherence to a strict moral code.” Synonyms for integrity would include honesty, honor, character and dignity. I like this working definition, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one else is looking.” Do you have integrity?