5 Stars Out Of 5
Book Review: "Intentional Integrity"
October 24, 2011
Essay by Christopher Talbot
"â€˜Don't the Bible say we must love everybody?' 'O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many things; but, then, nobody thinks of doing them,'" responds Henrique to young Eva in Harriet Beecher Stowe's highly influential novel Uncle Tom's Cabin . Unfortunately in contemporary times, an ambiguous dichotomy has been drawn between theology and practical Christian living. Though there is obvious knowledge of theological issues among many believers, there is also an obvious void of real-life transformation.
Current books even reflect and enforce this dichotomy between doctrine and practice. On one hand, there are theologically-driven books for academics, and on the other, consumer-driven "inspirational" book on how to have a better life. Unfortunately, too few books are bridging this divide. Thankfully, Dr. Garnett Reid's new book Intentional Integrity: Ten Life Strategies from the Book of Job is an antidote for this problem. It emerges from the intersection of practical Christian living and profound theological truth.
Thesis of the Book
The book's thesis may be summarized as follows: "While I am concerned about the broad culture of evangelical life, solutions begin with me and with you as individuals. It's the consistency, or lack of it, of how I live my faith and how character impacts you that must serve as the point of origin for the renewal flame of Christian integrity. That's how I must beginâ€”with my decisions, my heart, my life" . Reid acknowledges Christians' duty to the world, but argues that the catalyst must start with the individual believer's integrity. This lays the foundation for the rest of the volume.
Summary of the Book
Reid begins the book with an introductory chapter, in which he unveils his thesis of the ten principles found in Job 31 on living a life of integrity. Reid defines "integrity" as referring "to the wholeness, to that which is complete, unmixed, undivided" . This "means living with a center, an axis, holding the person together. The axis is God and His truth, and the spokes which radiate from it are all the details of life" . With this thesis, Reid then begins to build upon this foundation by suggesting ten principles of biblical integrity from Job's "oath of innocence" found in Job 31.
He then addresses the ten principles in chapters 2-11. These include the principles of purity, honesty, contentment, loyalty, fairness, compassion, worship, forgiveness, confession, and stewardship. Finally, the book concludes with chapter 12 followed by a closing written prayer.
Chapter 1, "A Promise Kept," is an introduction to the "oath" that Job makes to God about his integrity. Reid asserts that the book of Job is fundamentally about the integrity that Job (and consequently we) finds in God, and not about "why the righteous suffer." Reid sums this up in a quote by his friend Tom McCullough: "Help me not to question in the dark, what I know to be true in the light" . This quote weighs heavily on the reader from the beginning of the book until the final page.
Chapter 2 begins with the principle of purity. He addresses the issue at hand and contrasts lust with purity. Reid explains Job's first resolution: "This is where the battle rages in lifeâ€”in the dark corners of our minds that harbor the most dearly-held fugitives on the run from the light of God's truth and from the dominion of His sovereignty" . Reid calls us to surrender to Scripture in all that we do, especially concerning purity. He writes, "Make real in your life what [the Bible] says about purity, holiness, loyalty and sex within marriage" .
Chapter 3 discusses the principle of honesty. Reid bluntly states, "Without truth, life as we know it does not exist" . He provides several examples of this, such as using deception for self-promotion, living under the sway of false worldviews, and hankering for "little white lies." Reid commends Job's example to the reader: "Job then appeals for a check-upâ€”a thorough examination from God Himself to give him a clean bill of honesty" .
He evaluates contentment in chapter 4. Logically, this theme encourages examination of our objects of worship. Reid focuses largely on our money-hungry culture. He points out biblically that the Macedonian Christians are a model because "[t]hey were able to give their money for God's work because they had first given themselves to Him" . In connection to Job, Reid shows that Job "vows that should his desire entice him to grab for what he should not have, then as punishment a similar fate should come his way" .
Chapters 5-7 consider loyalty, fairness, and compassion. Loyalty is skillfully applied, especially to the marriage covenant between husband and wife. Reid then points out Job's resolution as seen in the "Equity Promise," as chapter 6 is appropriately named. He asserts that Job treats his friends and servants equally and calls us to do the same. Chapter 7 follows systematically, focusing on compassion to those in need. Reid emphasizes the personal duty of compassion ministry compared to government aidâ€”as did Job.
Worship is the theme of chapter 8â€”a very relevant message. Reid focuses especially on the purpose of worship and the attitude of the worshipper. Reid writes, "The contrite worshiper bends the knee to the fear of God instead, celebrating divine goodness, yes, but always with a tearful heart lamenting his own sin." He continues, "Worship thus celebrates, proclaims, and magnifies the gospel of Christ's redeeming grace that reconciles us to God" . He indicates the uniqueness of Job's oath: "This section . . . presents the most unusual condition in Job's oath. All of the others involve his ethical conduct . . . Here, however, he addresses the supreme issue in life: complete devotion to God" .
Chapter 9 and 10 discuss the topics of forgiveness and confession. Reid asserts that Job sought to recall who he might have offended. He suggests that justice, whether it is for others or us, ultimately comes from God. Reid asks the question "Do we really believe that only an all-knowing, impartial, holy God has the ultimate right to enforce justice as He sees it?" He then answers: "If so, revenge is none of our business. We have no jurisdiction. Let the proper authority handle it" . Related to this challenge, the author writes that we follow Job in his confession and not conceal our transgressions as others might do.
Stewardship is the final principle, found in chapter 11. Reid deals primarily with the stewardship of the earth through personal creation care. Job's integrity was shown through his use of the resources God had given him. Reid powerfully asserts that in being good stewards of creation we honor Christ.
The book concludes with a final chapter, followed by a prayer. Reid, in his closing remarks, states, "Integrity is the result of knowing God, not the means to know Him"; and, "Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might wear integrity's crown" . He then in the form of a prayer includes each of the principles in a dialogue to God.
Why You Should Read This Book
The book's structure is amazingly simple. Reid takes each of the principles from Job 31 and devotes a chapter to each principle. Each chapter contains two sections: "What Jobs Says" and "What We Face." He concludes each chapter with several ways one can apply the principle to his or her life. This process makes the book (1) very simple to read and (2) extremely applicable to life.
An aspect of this book that is pleasantly engaging is its array of sources. Reid cites from all angles of Western culture. Surveying the book, one will find quotes ranging from one end of the social spectrumâ€”Seinfeld, Homer Simpson, and BeyoncÃ©â€”to the otherâ€”George Herbert, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. (One may find this reminiscent of Timothy Keller in many of his well-known works.) This approach not only engages us on multiple levels, but also calls our attention to cultural integration.
Readers are often concerned with whether or not a book is above or below their reading range. It seems that Intentional Integrity can be appreciated by both the average layman seeking a better understanding of integrity, and the seasoned Bible-student seeking personal application of Scripture on a deeper level. Reid has an uncanny way of speaking to a person on an intellectual level, while simultaneously addressing the heart committed to living a life of integrity. Because of this, it would be highly beneficial for any Christian to read this short book. Excluding the works cited, the book is only 110 pages in length. A wide range of readers can find this book powerful, convicting, and applicable.
Dr. Garnett Reid has supplied us with a concise volume on how to live a life of integrity based on Job 31. The principles are simple and clear. One would be hard-pressed to walk away from any chapter without having found at least one carat of truth to apply to life. In response to Henrique in Uncle Tom's Cabin, we can respond: "Not only does the Bible say a great many thingsâ€”we can do them too."
 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Bantam Classics, New York City: 1982) 241.
 Garnett Reid, Intentional Integrity: Ten Life Strategies for Wholeness From the Book of Job (Nashville: Randall House, 2011), viii.
 Ibid., ix.
 Ibid., 3.
 Ibid., 12.
 Ibid., 17.
 Ibid., 20.
 Ibid., 21.
 Ibid., 33
 Ibid., 28.
 Ibid., 71, 72.
 Ibid., 66.
 Ibid., 83.
 Ibid., 106, 107.