Put your best foot forward
4 You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. 5 Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your Commandments (Psalm 119).
We know how important it is to teach our children about honesty at a tender age. We don’t want children to cover the truth, even if it would get them in trouble. Integrity requires accepting the risks that come with doing the right thing. It is a trait that other virtues are built on. Without integrity there can be no trust, loyalty, love, faithfulness; without which relationships, families and societies would suffer. Integrity makes us reliable and credible within our circles.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139).
People tend to be on their best behavior when they are under a microscope—when a superior is watching or during a performance evaluation. We don’t usually invite others to examine us for flaws, because we know they will find a mine of information. But the one who aspires to live uprightly, should desire God’s inquest into their character and motives.
We are more susceptible when we are in distress. We are bound to look for an easy way out, even if it would mean compromising on our principles. In those moments of anxiety and uncertainty, ask God to search and test you; and see if you are willing to still obey and trust Him. Be keen on changing negative attributes that often show up when in the doldrums. Integrity compels us to accept honest criticism in order to make improvements. God has given us His Spirit to convict, correct and teach us His Ways. During hard times we are more vulnerable to letting down our guard and caving in to harmful desires. It is when we are at our lowest when we should be open to receiving God’s Instructions. Allow God to reveal the issues that stymie spiritual growth, by being amenable to The Spirit.
9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 6).
Societies can have all sorts of fads and mores. There are those who are easily influenced by whatever seems fashionable or exciting; finding their identity within the shifting sands. Within each generation, there are those who have the courage to swim against the tide. Since the beginning of time, God preserves for Himself those who are willing to obey, serve and love Him within their current culture. Noah was one such a man—a just man, considered upright in his generation. God has never failed to have His chosen people within each generation, to be used for His Glory. Are you one of those in your generation? Integrity causes us to walk with God and not with the world. We have to be intentional about being set apart for God, by being in agreement with Him. Noah and his family were delivered from the Judgement that had destroyed everyone else. There’s no telling how far-reaching God’s Grace and Mercy could be granted to our children; if we would be the few in our generation who walk daily with God.
LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart: 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend (Psalm 15)
Those who wish to abide in The Presence of The LORD are those who are determined to practice righteousness. They delight in spending their time there. Anyone who abides in God’s Presence can only become more like Him. They must walk uprightly in their speech and conduct; they don’t destroy others’ reputation by dragging their name through the mud; they don’t dish out dirt on others’ or engage in gossip. True worshippers only speak and accept truth that doesn’t harm others.
18 Now that which was prepared daily was one ox and six choice sheep. Also fowl were prepared for me, and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine. Yet in spite of this I did not demand the governor’s provisions, because the bondage was heavy on these people. 19 Remember me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for these people (Nehemiah 5).
Nehemiah turned away the governor’s extravagant meals because they were prepared by people who were oppressed in Judah; people who lacked basic necessities. Nehemiah was the governor at the time and he chose to not indulge in the perks that were afforded to him. He considered his own people who were in dire straits and restrained himself because of others’ suffering. Leadership and power comes with many benefits, but it should not be at a cost to others, who plod along to just make ends meet. Those who are at the helm should ensure that their prosperity isn’t attained at the expense of those under them. God sees how we use our privileges, how we attain our riches, and what good we do for those who serve under us.
19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, and suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps (1 Peter 2).
Integrity is not always appealing to everyone. When we hold firm to our convictions and object to pressure or the urge to compromise, we might be ostracized by others or be treated with animosity. Commitment to please God should trump getting approval from others. We are in good company; Christ also suffered in obedience to The Father.
We are called to live in submission to God alone, and not to succumb to others’ selfish demands. The goal is to be just as Christ Jesus was; being one with Him in suffering, in an unbroken fellowship. He was despised by many for doing what The Father told Him, and God was glorified in Him. We must endure suffering patiently. God is delighted by our resolve to be righteous, even under the strain of opposition. This is our calling—to be steadfast and determined to live for His Glory, at every cost.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39)
Joseph was invested with overseeing his master Potiphar’s house. Potiphar gave him complete authority because he trusted Joseph, when he saw that The LORD was with him. He had such faith in Joseph that he didn’t keep score of what he had entrusted to him, because Joseph was a man of integrity. Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph and made improper advances. Joseph could have accepted her offer, after all his master was not keeping any tabs on him. He could have taken all that he desired and Potiphar would not have an inkling.
Joseph had no desire for what didn’t belong to him. Power can go to people’s heads, making them avaricious for what is not rightfully theirs. Joseph understood that it was God who had prospered him, and not Potiphar. We should be content with everything God blesses us with. If God wants to give us more, He will do so on His terms. We must restrain from sinning against God. Joseph knew what his master had only committed to him was not his to have, and his only Master was God. Joseph understood that sinning against God would manifest as failure to honor Him; it would have a direct effect on his performance and character as a high-ranking official in Potiphar’s house. Failure to please God will tarnish our character. God is our Master and should be honored before others. Lust and greed are contrary to integrity.
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2).
As Christians who know God and His Word, we are responsible to Him to live to please Him. In every place we set our feet, we are to apply His Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding to the best of our abilities— in our choices and lives. He blesses those who honor Him. Integrity is a virtue we should continue to cultivate in our daily responsibilities; it will keep us from defiling ourselves, from compromising our standards and values in our work, strengthen our relationships with others, and most importantly we will not sin against God by lusting after what He has not given us. We must be willing to suffer for doing the right thing by not cowering to pressure. Just as Christ was, so we are to be—blameless in Him, before God and others. We have to be willing to apply godly principles diligently.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My Eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule; which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in The Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in The Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart (Psalm 32)!