Intentional Integrity: Ten Life Strategies for Wholeness from the Book of Job
Insightful Instruction in Integrity
The Book: Garnett Reid has written one of the most practical little books on the topic of personal integrity I have ever read. Intentional Integrity (2011, Randall House Publications) is a relatively short, easy read that focuses with laser-like precision on correcting the integrity deficit in todayÃ¢ÂÂs culture one individual at a time. At just over one hundred pages of text, Reid does not use unnecessary words to make his point.
In Intentional Integrity, Reid examines the life of integrity Job lived in the face of the profound situation God allowed him to experience. He concentrates on Job chapter 31 as JobÃ¢ÂÂs oath, or defense of the life he has lived and how he commits to live out his remaining days.
As Reid examines Job 31, he identifies (and devotes a chapter each to) ten characteristics, or traits, of JobÃ¢ÂÂs integrity:
Additionally, each chapter is laid out in a similar fashion. First, he examines the text and explains it within its larger biblical and historical context. Next, he describes the current struggle with that particular trait. Finally, he lays out a strategy to develop the desire characteristic in the individualÃ¢ÂÂs own life. This method of writing makes this book incredibly practical.
The Point: By placing his trust and confidence in God, Job was able to develop the characteristics that lead to a life of integrity. It does not happen by accident, it is intentional (thus the title of the book). While the believer is called to live a life of integrity, we know it is not living this life that causes us to have a relationship with God. On the contrary, it is this relationship which should cause us to choose a life of integrity. Here is how Reid describes this:
"Our longing for God in those times is radically different from the soul without Him, the sufferer on the outside looking in to the possibility of faith. For that person I must correct what threatens to be a fatal misconception. Job has touted in innocence at great length in this disclaimer. Like a skilled museum docent, he has interpreted an exhibit of integrity piece-by-piece Ã¢ÂÂ not as a disinterested guide, but as a fervent advocate. Do not think, however, that a person can begin a relationship with God simply by pursuing integrity through a blameless lifestyle. Please dismiss such a notion altogether from your thinking. The only way to meet God is through trust, a total dependence on Him as you take His word for what He provides. Integrity is the result of knowing God, not the means to know Him. It expresses our life in God."
I think the main point Reid is making in Intentional Integrity is that in a relationship with God, and with his help, we can live a life of integrity by making the commitment in specific areas of our lives to live the way we are instructed in scripture.
The Result: This is a great little book filled with scripture and practical application. The reader is confronted with truth, but he is not left there. He is given real help in pursuing that truth and its application to life.
As a pastor and teacher, this book is helpful beyond the personal application. This would provide an excellent starting point for a preaching or teaching series. It would also be a great book for a Sunday school class or small group discussion. In fact, the only thing I think the book might be lacking is a series of discussion questions or conversation starters.
This is a book I would whole-heartedly recommend for anyone, especially those in any sort of leadership position (whether church, business, civic, family, etc.). It is an incredibly helpful book for life and ministry. Go buy it now!
November 1, 2011
Book Review: "Intentional Integrity"
Essay by Christopher Talbot
Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂDonÃ¢ÂÂt the Bible say we must love everybody?Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂO, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many things; but, then, nobody thinks of doing them,Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ responds Henrique to young Eva in Harriet Beecher StoweÃ¢ÂÂs highly influential novel Uncle TomÃ¢ÂÂs 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 Ã¢ÂÂinspirationalÃ¢ÂÂ book on how to have a better life. Unfortunately, too few books are bridging this divide. Thankfully, Dr. Garnett ReidÃ¢ÂÂs 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 bookÃ¢ÂÂs thesis may be summarized as follows: Ã¢ÂÂWhile I am concerned about the broad culture of evangelical life, solutions begin with me and with you as individuals. ItÃ¢ÂÂs 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. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs how I must beginÃ¢ÂÂwith my decisions, my heart, my lifeÃ¢ÂÂ . Reid acknowledges ChristiansÃ¢ÂÂ duty to the world, but argues that the catalyst must start with the individual believerÃ¢ÂÂs 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 Ã¢ÂÂintegrityÃ¢ÂÂ as referring Ã¢ÂÂto the wholeness, to that which is complete, unmixed, undividedÃ¢ÂÂ . This Ã¢ÂÂmeans 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 lifeÃ¢ÂÂ . With this thesis, Reid then begins to build upon this foundation by suggesting ten principles of biblical integrity from JobÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂoath of innocenceÃ¢ÂÂ 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, Ã¢ÂÂA Promise Kept,Ã¢ÂÂ is an introduction to the Ã¢ÂÂoathÃ¢ÂÂ 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 Ã¢ÂÂwhy the righteous suffer.Ã¢ÂÂ Reid sums this up in a quote by his friend Tom McCullough: Ã¢ÂÂHelp me not to question in the dark, what I know to be true in the lightÃ¢ÂÂ . 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 JobÃ¢ÂÂs first resolution: Ã¢ÂÂThis is where the battle rages in lifeÃ¢ÂÂin the dark corners of our minds that harbor the most dearly-held fugitives on the run from the light of GodÃ¢ÂÂs truth and from the dominion of His sovereigntyÃ¢ÂÂ . Reid calls us to surrender to Scripture in all that we do, especially concerning purity. He writes, Ã¢ÂÂMake real in your life what [the Bible] says about purity, holiness, loyalty and sex within marriageÃ¢ÂÂ .
Chapter 3 discusses the principle of honesty. Reid bluntly states, Ã¢ÂÂWithout truth, life as we know it does not existÃ¢ÂÂ . He provides several examples of this, such as using deception for self-promotion, living under the sway of false worldviews, and hankering for Ã¢ÂÂlittle white lies.Ã¢ÂÂ Reid commends JobÃ¢ÂÂs example to the reader: Ã¢ÂÂJob then appeals for a check-upÃ¢ÂÂa thorough examination from God Himself to give him a clean bill of honestyÃ¢ÂÂ .
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 Ã¢ÂÂ[t]hey were able to give their money for GodÃ¢ÂÂs work because they had first given themselves to HimÃ¢ÂÂ . In connection to Job, Reid shows that Job Ã¢ÂÂvows that should his desire entice him to grab for what he should not have, then as punishment a similar fate should come his wayÃ¢ÂÂ .
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 JobÃ¢ÂÂs resolution as seen in the Ã¢ÂÂEquity Promise,Ã¢ÂÂ 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 aidÃ¢ÂÂas did Job.
Worship is the theme of chapter 8Ã¢ÂÂa very relevant message. Reid focuses especially on the purpose of worship and the attitude of the worshipper. Reid writes, Ã¢ÂÂThe 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.Ã¢ÂÂ He continues, Ã¢ÂÂWorship thus celebrates, proclaims, and magnifies the gospel of ChristÃ¢ÂÂs redeeming grace that reconciles us to GodÃ¢ÂÂ . He indicates the uniqueness of JobÃ¢ÂÂs oath: Ã¢ÂÂThis section . . . presents the most unusual condition in JobÃ¢ÂÂs oath. All of the others involve his ethical conduct . . . Here, however, he addresses the supreme issue in life: complete devotion to GodÃ¢ÂÂ .
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 Ã¢ÂÂDo we really believe that only an all-knowing, impartial, holy God has the ultimate right to enforce justice as He sees it?Ã¢ÂÂ He then answers: Ã¢ÂÂIf so, revenge is none of our business. We have no jurisdiction. Let the proper authority handle itÃ¢ÂÂ . 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. JobÃ¢ÂÂs 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, Ã¢ÂÂIntegrity is the result of knowing God, not the means to know HimÃ¢ÂÂ; and, Ã¢ÂÂJesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might wear integrityÃ¢ÂÂs crownÃ¢ÂÂ . 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 bookÃ¢ÂÂs 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: Ã¢ÂÂWhat Jobs SaysÃ¢ÂÂ and Ã¢ÂÂWhat We Face.Ã¢ÂÂ 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 spectrumÃ¢ÂÂSeinfeld, Homer Simpson, and BeyoncÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂto the otherÃ¢ÂÂGeorge Herbert, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and WagnerÃ¢ÂÂs 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 TomÃ¢ÂÂs Cabin, we can respond: Ã¢ÂÂNot only does the Bible say a great many thingsÃ¢ÂÂwe can do them too.Ã¢ÂÂ
 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle TomÃ¢ÂÂs 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.
October 24, 2011