Colossians 3:9-10

“9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self…”

Integrity

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines honesty as, “fairness and straightforwardness of conduct.” As Christians, this is a fundamental principle and one that Jesus Himself emulated daily. So…why as Christians do we struggle with this principle? The answer…SIN!

Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” If standing in the court of law, this would be the smoking gun….all fingers are pointed at the accuser – Flesh! The Word clearly states that as believers, we yearn to do the right thing through the convictions imparted by the Holy Spirit, but our sinful nature rages against all things Christ-like. Therefore, we must exercise this principle to ensure a habitual pattern.

Yes, it takes practice – exercise! Growing up, I was a competitive gymnast [insert surprise, disbelief, and even laughter if you shall-ha]…but the truth remains – I grew up learning the skill of gymnastics from the age of five until my high school years and continued teaching tumbling during my time in college. I spent countless hours, weekly, at the gym training my muscles to perform in specific ways that stretched the boundaries of human strength, flexibility, and endurance. The hours of training and exercise paid off; I won several regional competitions and two state all-around titles. The hallmark of my training peaked when I was invited to attend the Olympic training camp in Houston, Texas.

Honestly, the best part of the story does not revolve around medals, wins, or invitations. You see, I was an ordinary kid from a small town. Our gym did not even have a full-sized floor mat to practice my tumbling routines. My teammates and I had to go the extra step in visualizing our routines on a full square mat in preparation for “real” competitions as we only had enough room in our gym for a single line of gym mats. If you know anything about gymnastics, a floor routine is conducted on a large, springy, square mat where amazing tumbling passes commence. Yet, our gym did not have this advantage. We didn’t have springy floors, full-sized tumbling mats, or even space for two athletes to practice at the same time. Yet, I was a winner! I had to work harder! The only time I would conduct my full routine in a “real” gym would be on competition day! So what was the difference? Why was I successful? Practice, practice, practice!

No, I’m not a famous athlete; I’m not even special – not in the least! Truth be told, if I tried to flip and flop today like I did as a child, I would probably severely hurt myself. I share this personal story with you to associate practice with success. As believers, we must practice Biblical principles in order to be successful. We cannot rely on the mere fact of our status as “Christians” to ensure honesty and integrity when faced with temptation or selfishness.

I pray that as we live like Jesus, we practice full honesty with our fellow man. Matthew 5:37 says, “37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Do not seek to manipulate your brothers and sisters for your own benefit. This is not fruit from the Lord; this comes purely from the flesh! Again, this truly takes practice. I encourage you to build-up your “spiritual muscle memory!” When the time comes, you’ll react in complete honesty and integrity without even thinking about it! Praise God for spiritual practice! It’s needed-start today!

Question: What “spiritual muscle group” do you need to build? Start exercising today.

Thankful,

Christian Armetta

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