One Sunday morning years ago, I had a startling realization just before I got up to preach. I remembered that, earlier that week, I had gone to a restaurant in our small town, had eaten my meal, and only then had realized that I didn't have any money. The owner, who knew me well, had told me to bring back the money when I had time. I had left the restaurant and promptly forgotten all about it...until now. During the worship service. Just minutes before I was to preach a sermon on....wait for it...integrity. (Quick aside--Assuming it was the Holy Spirit who reminded me of my slip in integrity, couldn't He have done it at a more convenient time? Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?)
In the sermon, I confessed my sin to my church members. I asked them to hold me accountable; as soon as church was over, I needed to head to that restaurant and pay my debt. And I did just that. Then I heard an unusual sound: applause. I turned around and found that at least a dozen of my church members had gone to that same restaurant and had seen me finally buy back my integrity.
Someone has said that if life is like juggling, then our integrity is a ball made of glass...once we drop it, it's awfully hard to put back together. Matthew 5:33-37 is often seen very legalistically, as applying only to the taking of vows. But I believe Jesus was calling for His people to be outstanding in their integrity...so much so, people believe us without asking for proof. This Sunday, we'll explore what that kind of "radical honesty" looks like.