How to Avoid the Titanic Mistake
How to Avoid the Titanic Mistake
James Cameron, director of the movie Titanic, describes the Titanic as a ‘metaphor’ of life: ‘We are all living on… [the] Titanic.’
When the Titanic set sail in 1912, it was declared to be ‘unsinkable’ because it was constructed using a new technology. The ship’s hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Up to four of these compartments could be damaged or even flooded, and still the ship would float.
Tragically, the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 at 2.20 am. 1,513 people lost their lives. At the time, it was thought that five of its watertight compartments had been ruptured in a collision with an iceberg.
However, on 1 September 1985, when the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright on the ocean floor, there was no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull. What they discovered was that damage to one compartment affected all the rest.
Many people make the Titanic mistake. They think they can divide their lives into different ‘compartments’ and that what they do in one will not affect the rest. However, as Rick Warren (from whom I have taken this illustration) says, ‘A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments.’
David prayed for ‘an undivided heart’ (Psalm 86:11). He led the people with ‘integrity of heart’ (78:72). Supremely, Jesus was a ‘man of integrity’ (Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14). How can you and I avoid the Titanic mistake and live lives of integrity?
Integrity in relationshipsProverbs 9:13-18
It is not easy to lead a life of integrity in relationships. Temptations abound and the lure is strong: ‘The woman Folly is loud’ (v.13a), ‘calling out’ (v.15a), ‘come in here!’ (v.16a). She says, ‘Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’ (v.17).
Yet this is a total deception. Why should ‘stolen’ water be sweet or food eaten ‘in secret’ be delicious? In fact, unfaithfulness leads to a deadening of the spirit: ‘But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave’ (v.18).
The apostle Paul writes that if you set your mind on what your sinful nature desires it leads to death, ‘but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace’ (Romans 8:6).
Lord, by your Spirit, help me to live a life of integrity, rooting out the secret sin and living a life that is authentic and faithful.
Integrity with moneyLuke 16:1-18
Jesus spoke about money more than virtually any other subject (including prayer and heaven). Twelve out of his thirty-eight parables are about money or possessions. As Billy Graham put it, ‘If a person gets their attitude towards money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in their life.’
In today’s passage, Jesus teaches us how to get a right view of money. He starts with the rather strange parable of the dishonest manager, who is commended for his shrewdness.
- Money is a tool
The people of this world are often more sensible, thoughtful, prudent and wise than the people of God in understanding that money is a tool. The dishonest manager is commended for his shrewdness in seeing this. The reality is that money can be a tool for eternal benefit. ‘I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings’ (v.9).
Jesus taught on the wonder of being with him for eternity in the parables of the great banquet (14:15–24) and the prodigal son (15:11–32). Here, we are reminded that the use of our money on earth can have eternal consequences. One of Jesus’ primary concerns was to see the good news of the kingdom of God being preached (16:16). Your money can be used to see God’s rule and reign coming in to people’s lives – with eternal consequences.
- Money is a test
Jesus is not commending the dishonest manager for his dishonesty. Indeed, the opposite is the case. He goes on to say, ‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?’ (vv.10–11).
Be an honest and trustworthy steward of everything God has given you, including your money. The more trustworthy you are with money, the more God will give you ‘true riches’.
- Money is a threat
Jesus says, ‘No one can be a slave to two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot be a slave to both God and Money’ (v.13). As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, ‘Our hearts have room for only one all-embracing devotion, and we can only cleave to one Lord.’
Money is to be used, but not loved. Don’t love money and use people. Love people and use money.
The threat is that love of money leads to hatred of God (v.13). The Pharisees loved money (they were ‘money-obsessed’, MSG) and sneered at Jesus (v.14). Have the opposite attitude to money. ‘Despise’ it (v.13). In other words, treat it with contempt by giving generously and focusing your love not on money, but on God who ‘knows your hearts’ (v.15).
Lord, help me to be a good steward of everything that you have entrusted to me, to be honest and trustworthy. Help me to give generously and focus my thoughts not on money but on you.
Integrity of lifestyleDeuteronomy 21:1-22:30
Many of these laws were temporary in purpose. For example, the food laws and so on were symbolic. They educated the people of God in the pursuit of purity.
Others, however shocking they may seem to us, are surprisingly advanced for the standards of the time. For example, there are limits put on how a captive woman can be treated (21:10–14); she must not be dishonoured or humiliated (v.14).
There is to be honour in sexual relationships. God is concerned about premarital sex, promiscuity (22:21), adultery (v.22), rape (vv.25–27), and incest (v.30). As we saw in today’s New Testament passage, Jesus himself spoke strongly about the need for marriage vows to be honoured (Luke 16:18).
God is also concerned about protecting the vulnerable. Rape is always a horrible crime, but in ancient societies it could also lessen a woman’s chances of marrying. This is the context behind the obligation for a rapist to pay compensation, and to marry the woman in question (Deuteronomy 22:29). However, in the equivalent passage in Exodus 22:17 it is made clear that this does not mean that the woman has to marry the man. This law is designed to protect rape victims – not add forced marriage to their suffering.
Consideration is to be shown to neighbours (Deuteronomy 22:1–3). It is not enough to do no harm to your neighbour. Positively do them good. Ignoring those in need is wrong: ‘Don’t look the other way as if you didn’t see it’ (v.3, MSG).
We see the beginnings here of what our English law came to describe as ‘a duty of care’ towards our neighbour. Make sure that your property (home, car, bike and so on) is safe and not likely to cause harm to your neighbour. ‘Make it safe’ (v.8, MSG).
I find all of today’s passages very challenging. I know I fall short in many of these areas. I have often failed. Is there any hope?
In the middle of all these laws comes a clue: ‘Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse’ (21:23). Paul quotes this verse in Galatians and explains its significance to us. Everyone who fails to keep all the law of God is under a curse – this is the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10). However, the wonderful news is that Jesus took the curse on himself on our behalf on the cross (‘the tree’).
‘He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse’ (v.13, MSG). As a result, all of us are now able to receive, by faith, the promise of the Holy Spirit (v.14).
My failure to live a life of total integrity means that I have failed to keep the law. I would therefore be under God’s curse. But Jesus became a curse for me on the cross. Hanging on the tree he took God’s curse upon himself for you and me so that we can be redeemed, set free and receive the promise of the Spirit to enable us to begin to lead lives of complete integrity.
Lord, thank you that you died for me so that I might be forgiven and receive the gift of your Holy Spirit. By your Spirit help me to live a life of integrity of heart.
I find this passage very difficult. I prefer Jesus!
Verse of the Day
‘Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…’ (Luke 16:10).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan Books, 1970) p.196
James Rampton, ‘James Cameron: My Titanic obsession’, The Independent, Monday 8 August 2005.
Rick Warren, Daily Hope with Rick Warren, ‘Take the First Step to Integrity’ November 2014, accessed via: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/take-the-first-step-to-integrity[last accessed March 2016]
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.