Appetites are extremely powerful. They have the potential to determine the direction, quality and potential of our lives. Rule them or they will rule you.
They will rule you in spite of what you believe. We can believe right and do wrong. Our appetites pose a threat to our integrity.
Integrity is the resolve or courage to do the right, virtuous and noble thing just because it’s the right, virtuous and noble thing to do…even when it costs us.
Your Integrity, Our World
We expect it in others. An “ought to” we hold others accountable to. Integrity may be personal, but it is not private. Because the load or consequence of a lack of integrity is transferred to the people around us. It may be your personal decision, but it impacts the people around you.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.– Proverbs 11:3 NASB
People of integrity take the long look, not the short view. People who maintain their integrity are guided by it. It’s their main decision-making filter.
Integrity Defined Simply
Integrity defined simply is doing what you ought to do even if it costs you.
We expect everybody else to do what they ought to do, so why is it so hard when it comes to ourselves? Our appetites pose a constant threat to our integrity. Just about every day, we have to say no to one, to either protect or satisfy the other.
3 Quick Comments About Appetites
- God created them. Sin distorted them.
- Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied. (They have a one word vocabulary: MORE)
- Appetites always whisper “now”, never “later”. (They aren’t a fan of delayed gratification).
Our appetites pose a constant threat to our integrity. Appetites demand Immediate, not optimal.
Doing the right thing could actually slow things down. The quickest, most direct route to what we want isn’t always the most ethical. When we face that crossroad, we have a decision to make:
Will my integrity guide me? Or will my appetite guide me?
Esau & Jacob – Genesis 25
One Bible story illustrates this tension better than any other and gives us a word picture. We normally refer to it as Jacob & Esau. Yet Esau was the firstborn son, so his name should have been mentioned first.
The firstborn son got judicial authority, the father’s special blessing (the equivalent of God’s special blessing) and a double portion of the birthright.
Rarely does the younger, weaker brother have power over the older, stronger brother. When they do, they look for ways to leverage the opportunity.
He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!– Genesis 25: 30-31
Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
Whenever you’re in “quick” mode, it’s your appetite talking. Pump the breaks!
When it’s right in front of you, it’s amazing some of the bad trades you’re willing to make.
Justifying = Just a Lying
The integrity of the upright will guide them. The upright see right. They understand later is longer.
Those that are bent and focused on now don’t see well.
Now is now. And now, that now is gone.
Esau traded his future for a bowl of stew. What would cause someone to do that? An appetite.
“It’s Not That Big of a Deal”
So Esau despised his birthright. – Gen 25:34
Esau decided it’s not that big of a deal. We decide we don’t care when it’s too late to care (or do anything about it). We discounted the value with what we’ve done and now there’s nothing we can do.
So we create a false narrative…and then we believe that narrative. We hang on to our excuses and our justification and very few people ever face up to any of that stuff.
And then we are never truly ourselves. We live with a limp and the healthy people around us are the only ones who notice.
You can’t be yourself as long as you’re lying to yourself. You can’t give your entire self to anyone as long as you’re lying to yourself.
Our appetites compete with our integrity. Our appetites compete for our future. On some level, we will be tempted to trade our futures for what looks like a bowl of stew. In the future, we’ll look back and realize what we compromised our integrity
Our friends determine the direction and quality of our lives.
Your unhealthy friendships will last about two or two and a half years tops. If you’re in a relationship with an unhealthy person, you are an unhealthy person. That’s why those relationships have a short shelf-life; it’s like parasites that feed off of each other and eventually kill each other.
The problem is that when the relationship is over, what you’re left with is almost worthless. It’s less than valuable, it’s shameful.
What you give up when you trade your future for a bowl of stew is irretrievable; it’s not unforgivable, but you can never get it back.
What is Your Bowl of Stew?
What is competing right now with your integrity? What is competing for your preferred future?
What are you talking yourself into that the people who love you are trying to take you out of? The whisper of the appetite says: it’s not that big a deal, it doesn’t matter.
What are you doing that’s not exactly illegal or immoral, but you don’t want anyone to know about it?
What We Have In Common With Esau
We have no idea what or who hangs in the balance of our decision? The reason Esau wasn’t concerned was because he thought everything he needed in the moment was right in front of him.
Would you be willing to sit up straight and decide the following:
I will not trade what I value most for something I have an appetite for now. Don’t trade your future for a bowl of stew. Do what you know you ought to do.
Artistic Sermon Notes on Appetite
My daughter is talented at handlettering. I also find she listens to messages better when her hands are busy. This is her artistic representation of Andy’s message: