Last night, we wrapped up our semester-long discussion on the fruits of the Spirit here at the Mission. Each of us shared the particular fruit(s) we feel that God is really calling us to cultivate and work on in our lives. Throughout the entire conversation, the word integrity kept coming to my mind. And last night, I was thinking of integrity with its more typical definition: characterized by soundness of an honest character. We should honestly pursue and manifest the fruits in our lives in a dedicated manner.
And then God (as He often does) hit me with integrity again this morning but in a different way. I'm reading the book of Titus right now, and Titus 2:7-8 says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us." Let me give a little context: this verse is set in a passage talking about how to instruct young men. I think, however, these are great verses to apply to everyone at all times.
Anyway, being who I am, I looked up integrity in the dictionary, and I found another great definition. Integrity is also the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished. So cool! In Titus, then, God - through Paul - is commanding us to be wholly devoted in order to teach in an honorable way. Wholly devoted to what? To Jesus Christ. If our entire beings, our whole selves undiminished by outside distractions and dirt, are directed toward God and dedicated to Him, there will be nothing bad to say about us - our opposition will have no foothold to slander us. We will be characterized by integrity.
Also in that definition, I'm drawn to the word undiminished. Why? Because it reminds me of something from Tolkien's work. We can laugh together because I'm a nerd. HAHA. But for real. Let me give you a quick summary of part of The Silmarillion. This book, which is a history of the beginning times of Middle-earth, revolves around the making, losing, and quest to recover the Silmarils, these crystal jewels that captured the light of the two trees of Valinor (the trees were the lights of the world before the Sun and the Moon were created). Tolkien describes them as shining with the "radiance of white flame." These things are bright, man, so bright one eventually becomes a star! Anyway, Melkor, the really bad devilish character of The Silmarillion, steals the Silmarils from the Elves and takes them to his dungeon fortress where he sets them in his crown. Now everything about Melkor is dark and smoky - not a lot of light penetrates his kingdom. But when several of the characters venture into Melkor's halls to steal back the Silmarils, there the jewels are, shining through the darkness, undiminished. Even in the devil's dungeons, the Silmarils are unsullied - their light cannot be quenched.
I want to strive to have that kind of integrity of character: wholly dedicating my entire self to the pursuit of Christ, undiminished by satan's attempts, shining for all to see because Jesus, my Savior, is the light of the world. Forget diamonds, Rihanna, I wanna shine bright like a Silmaril!
Peace and blessings, y'all :)