Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…When integrity speaks people listen.
From the mid 1970’s and into the 1980’s there was a well-known advertisement campaign for the Wall Street brokerage firm, Hutton. Most of the commercials were set in busy places such as bars, restaurants, or concert halls. An actor playing the founder of the company, Edward Francis Hutton would lean over to say something to someone nearby. As he began to speak the entire room, noisy a second before would go quiet and everyone would lean toward him to try to hear what he was saying. The narrator of the commercial would then say the line that became famous…”When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. The idea of course was that the Hutton firm was so successful that everyone wanted to know what E.F. Hutton thought.
Do you know who everyone is always interested in hearing from? A person of unwavering integrity. Pastor Rick was speaking about just such a person this past week. In Mark 6:14-20 we read: 14 Now King Herod heard of Him, [Jesus] for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.” 16 But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
King Herod was not a godly man, but the Bible tells us that he liked to listen to John the Baptist. He didn’t like listening to him because John would only tell Herod things he wanted to hear, in fact the scripture says quite the opposite was true. John was incredibly candid with Herod. Herod had married his brother’s wife, and John couldn’t have been more clear that this was an ungodly thing to do, he didn’t hold back the truth at all. He called sin what it is…sin, and if we know anything about John, he most certainly implored Herod to repent and get right with God. This passage points out, as did pastor this weekend, that though Herod apparently wasn’t willing do what was right in terms of his marriage, He did like to listen to what John had to say and as a direct result of some of those conversations, Herod made quite a few adjustments in his life. The bible says And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
In Mathew 11:11 it is recorded that Jesus said of John: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…”. John wasn’t perfect, he was a fallen human being just like you and I, but he did have unwavering integrity. What I mean by that is that when John was confronted with evil he called it what it was and made the remedy (repentance and godliness) known to the offender. His entire ministry surrounded repentance, and he couldn’t have had a ministry of repentance if that ministry hadn’t included calling out unrighteousness when he saw it. John didn’t decide who he would call on the carpet for their sin based on the repercussions to him. He once told off a group of Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We know from the account above that is recorded for us in both Matthew and Mark that John did not waver from telling King Herod of his sin. Sin was sin to John and he was going to point it out and the way to repentance and a renewed relationship with God regardless of the personal cost to himself. John took the charge found in Ezekiel 3:18 & 19 very seriously: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
So what am I saying? Should we beat people over the head with their sin? No, and I don’t think that’s what John the Baptist did either. The sheer number of people he was able to influence and the influential people like Herod who John almost got through to, indicates that though He was direct he must have also been seen as sincere and caring. People must have been able to see that his concern was for their very souls. That coupled with the fact that he was unwavering in his message, regardless of the personal price, caused people to want to hear what he had to say.
So if you want to be one of those people that others want to hear from, you don’t have to be a Wall Street tycoon like E.F. Hutton, you simply need to have integrity. You need only be consistent in your message. We can’t be good Christians on Sunday and then look and sound no different than anyone else on Monday if we want people to listen to what we have to say. Consistency and integrity and love are the keys. I know messages like this are not popular, few are willing to put themselves out there like John the Baptist did. But it is the only right thing to do. If you saw someone getting ready to do something you had knowledge would get them killed would you not out of a sense of concern for their very lives, try to warn them of the danger they were in? Would you remain silent in fear that if you spoke up they might tell you to mind your own business and not to judge them? Of course you wouldn’t. James 5:19,20 says: Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
So now, walking and speaking with integrity and love…go be awesome!