Integrity from the Top

Psalm 101

“Follow the leader is a children’s game. First a leader or “head of the line” is chosen, then the children all line up behind the leader. The leader then moves around and all the children have to mimic the leader’s actions. Any players who fail to follow or do what the leader does are out of the game. The last person standing other than the leader is now the new leader.” Wikipedia

Seem to forget an important point when choosing / considering leader and leadership: in practical terms, a leader isn’t a leader without followers. And, the idea is that followers will mimic leader, will follow his or her lead, go where he or she goes. By definition, followers will not surpass leader, will not rise to higher level of performance or character if they are genuinely following. Is true at home, at church, in public square.

If children are to grow up and be pleasing to God, must have right kind of leadership in the home. If the church is to fulfill its Christ-given mandate of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, must have right kind of leadership. If a nation is to restrain evil and promote righteousness according to God’s standard, must have right kind of leadership. Leaders fitting that description must have integrity – the guy at the bottom doesn’t stand a chance of doing it right (generally speaking) if the one at the top lacks integrity.

Text is King David’s declaration of his commitment to doing it God’s way, living with integrity in his home and on his throne. Had feet of clay, didn’t always do right, but more on that later.

A. Integrity at home v.1-4

honor God (1)

will sing about principles important to God as well as praise – content of song is significant, one to whom singing more so

mercy and justice integral to God’s character (Ex. 34:5-7), not surprising he requires them of his people (Mic. 6:8)

just as integrity must begin at home before can be demonstrated in public (office), so it must begin with honor of God

if definition of integrity = moral soundness, unbeliever can approach definition but never reach it; total moral soundness includes right worship – right God, right heart

live wisely (2a)

older words: prudent, circumspect, blameless; Paul makes direct connection between leadership in home and in church

1 Tim. 3:4-5He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

covers the spectrum of wise living – making decisions/choices that will honor God and be good for physical/emotional/social/spiritual well-being of family

matters of the home have priority (2b)

integrity requires being the same person in private as in public; character does matter, is what governs how you govern

life of true integrity only possible when completely dependent on God; even then, with full commitment to doing life God’s way, don’t always make the grade

avoid evil (3a)

flirting with sin and having integrity are mutually exclusive – like God and mammon (Matt. 6:24)

too many people who want both – pleasures of the world, guarantee of escape from hell; try to walk the edge without falling

one with integrity stays as far away from sin as possible; avoids whenever possible situations or people that would entice to sin

hate sin (3b)

strong emotion and attitude that plays out in action: to hate sin means to oppose it, detest and despise it, desire to have no contact or relationship with it

is the opposite of love – hate separates / drives apart, love unites / brings together

sin has absolutely no appeal to the one who hates it, they derive no pleasure from it whatever; hatred of sin not something with switch – can’t turn on/ turn off for private/public

commitment to pure heart, pure surroundings (4)

is a matter of the heart – will have a perfect heart (integrity), not a perverse heart

neither David nor anyone else to be faulted for making this kind of commitment – it’s a good one, pleases God

David’s problem: achieving the standard he set for himself, that reflects accurately God’s standard for him

solution to missing the standard is not to lower it but to seek help – small child, basketball, dad picks up

B. Integrity on the throne v.5-8

principles for governing: how he purposes to carry out mandate later described by Paul in Rom. 13:3-4

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. ….do what is good, and you will receive his approval,But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

repeat: character counts – not accidental that integrity at home comes first

no one can be perfect Jekyl-Hyde; intellect cannot override heart (moral character) in every aspect

for example, alcoholic supervisor deciding how to apply shop rule about lateness / absences to fellow alcoholic – highly likely will tend toward being lenient, covering, etc….and spreads out from there to other issues/situations

right kind of staff people (5)

will require loyalty in others – no gossip

zero-tolerance for tattling at home translates into zero-tolerance for mud-slinging, back-stabbing, gossip in public

healthy and properly functioning government/business/church requires loyalty to right principles: truth and truthfulness, transparency (no back-room dealing), consideration for others

expects those around to be humble – remember their roots and live like it

good example in David – had his struggles but pride wasn’t a big one; remembered he was the shepherd-poet

persisted throughout life – credited God with raising him to position, desired to do something for God in return (build a temple); one of last acts: commission Solomon, gather materials for building project

public organizations that are most effective, best liked, most respected: the ones that get customer service right

in this sense: do what is right, focus on God-ordained purpose, do it well

requires the right kind of heart in those closest to power

someone with proud heart always puts others in second place, at a disadvantage, so as to promote their agenda

NET – “I will not tolerate anyone who has a cocky demeanor and an arrogant attitude.” – bigger they are, harder they fall, and general rule is they do fall….eventually

if one at the top has integrity, can only retain it if close advisors and associates have the same

important note: genuine commitment to integrity requires action consistent with principle

praise for good works (6)

favor to the honest

God and his word are practical but not pragmatic – it has to be about principles, ideology, not simply results

and, yes, means do count; it does matter how you get there – for Christian, focus must be on doing right thing, trusting God to bring about right results

world operates on rewarding one who gets best results: Walmart – scans/hr; Real estate agent – sales/month

God operates on rewarding one who pursues right goal righteously: doing what is right for right reasons

opportunity for one with integrity

ones who often move up corporate or governmental ladder, sometimes even within the church are those who get results – often without regard for how they do it

leader who has integrity desires to fill up organization with others of like mind – encourages that at all levels by giving opportunity for advancement, betterment, etc. to those who demonstrate integrity

a terror to evil (7-8)

no deceit, no lying

cannot simply encourage the righteous and turn blind eye to evildoers; must have no tolerance for deception

deceit was where it all started in Eden, is very close to root of all sorts of evils and must be addressed

prompt justice

tolerating evil only encourages more evil; God’s ministers for justice must address it quickly, before it grows, does more pervasive damage

classic example: plane hijackings one after another; missile strike on Khadafi’s tent, end of story – “price of evil too high”

C. the last Word

not with David, but his Son

remember: Bathsheba – Amnon / Absalom – Joab; also: census, 2 Sam. 24:1-10 – one of few times David’s pride ruled

pertinent to parenting today: how can I tell my kids not to do something that I did? how David blew it – Amnon / Tamar

two aspects of David’s example we should follow: his devotion/commitment to God, his quick repentance

also pertinent to leadership in all three God-ordained institutions: not just about being better than the last guy, less distasteful than the other guy, the only one who wants it

train up future dads, train / select church leaders, elect officials who follow God’s principles / Christ’s example

first Adam / last Adam – 1 Cor. 15:45Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Every child of God has duty to live by principles outlined in this Psalm; Lord Jesus the only one who has done so perfectly. With his help, we must do our best to follow his example in our own lives. And, do our part to encourage same in others at every opportunity.

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