Vol. 8-37 – 09-10-2023 – Our Name and Integrity
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. —2 Thessalonians 3:17
My friend Bob is an encourager. He teaches the Community Group across the hall from me. He always greets me and is an affirmer. I am always glad to see him. I cannot help but think the learners in his group are thankful for him.
My friend Ted is also an encourager. He is in our Community Group. He always has something encouraging to say about the teaching lesson. I thank God for his presence in our group.
Then there is my friend Luci. She has a handle on Scripture. And she has a handle on making sure our Community Group is aware of prayer needs. She is also not intimidated in letting us know of needs in her own or extended family’s lives.
There is also Scott. He is a great prayer warrior in our church. He drops me notes. Sends me a weekly blog that emphasizes prayer and getting our hearts into touching lives for Christ.
Greg, in our Community Group, has the heart to share the gospel. He touches lives that few would give their time to. He struggles with some things, but not with being a representative of Christ.
There are others in our Community Group I want to hang on to them all. They participate in our prayer time. Give their observations for our Bible Study. I love these brothers and sisters in Christ. As my dad would say, there are none better, and few as good.
One thing about names: you always know who to connect others to, with the folks you know. You share their names. God has made a difference in their lives. It is easy to notice. They are easy to be friends with. You can ask around the church, it would be rare for someone to not know who they are and how valuable they are to the ministry of the church.
I am so privileged to know them, to know their name.
Paul wrote the second letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them. There was something troubling them. Paul knew it. Some of the Thessalonians thought they missed Christ’s return. Imagine how troubled they felt. They had a friend in Paul to help them with their understanding. Paul had a reputation when he was unsaved—it was not good. But his life changed dramatically when he received Christ. He wanted that for everyone he met.
Part of Paul’s change was to a person who you could trust. Honor. Love. Listen to. Speak biblically. Had sound doctrine. Notice what he said in his letter to the Thessalonians: I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. –2 Thessalonians 3:17-18
Don’t you want to live like the regenerated Paul? To have the same reputation. To be trustworthy. To be counted upon. To follow after Christ like Him?
Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. —Titus 2:9-10
What is it that Paul is writing about here? Integrity. Integrity is both an individual characteristic and a commitment to others, including to those you hold accountability to.
One of the things I noticed about our introductory verse is that the translators seem to use a politically correct word, pilfering. The Greek word is used to reflect the character of someone who chooses to set apart for oneself, to embezzle. Embezzling certainly sounds more heinous than pilfering.
So, what would be an example of embezzlement? Taking stamps from your employer. Taking paper, legal pads, and writing instruments home that belongs to the company. Business Matters published a survey to come up with the 10 most frequent items pilfered (I think they meant embezzled) from offices: 1) Post-it Notes; 2) tape; 3) scissors, 4) toilet paper; 5) copy paper; 6) USB memory sticks; 7) notepads/legal pads; 8) pens; 9) staplers; and, 10) highlighters.
And a survey of AOL employees indicated that 43% admitted to pilfering low-cost supplies and did not think that their pilfering was wrong. They checked the box saying they believed the company was not paying them enough or did not treat them well. Was that really the reason? Or were they thieves?
Keeping all the income you get instead of first tithing. Remember the young man I wrote about that said the rich should be the ones who should support the church? What did that say about him? That he was going to keep all that he got. He needs it more than the church. He was embezzling from God. Now it sounds serious, doesn’t it?
Paul reminded the believers of his time to be honest and above reproach in all of their work for others. The others would include working under the authority of Christ.
Stealing breaks the law. Stealing cancels any trust toward us. Stealing destroys the Christian witness. Stealing perverts our character.
Everyone has a reputation. Our best open door to others is to build a reputation so that we reflect Christ’s character. He wants us to be more like Him.
We make application of the Scripture verses in allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and apply 1 John 1:9 to our activities. Our names mean something to others. What do they say about us?
Want to grow spiritually? Begin with an inward look.
The outward actions of our lives impact. Our actions ought always to line up with our beliefs, When a believer acts out their beliefs it usually opens the door to share their beliefs with someone searching for hope.
These two sections charge us with being honest with ourselves. It makes a difference in life for another person.
Commit to being above reproach in name and action—it tells on other people.