Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walking in Integrity

     My father was a man that believed in honesty and integrity.  If there is any quality that stood out to me more than any other it was this one.  When he shook another man's hand and reached agreement, he meant to keep his part of the deal because that is what he thought was right before God.  I admired that trait more than any other because I knew I could count on him, and by God's grace, I married a man just like that as well.  This is a character quality that Christians should display in all their relationships and business dealings.
     King David wrote about this in Psalm 101:  "I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music.  I will ponder the way that is blameless.  Oh, when will you come to me?  I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.  I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil" (vs.1-4).  David, in these verses, sets forth a desire to walk with integrity keeping his heart and mind from evil things within his own house.  He is aware of God's ever abiding presence with him and he desires to avoid anything which will cause him to stumble before the Lord.  This is the pursuit of holiness that we see David pledging himself to.
     When I consider these words of King David and then I look at our current society, I see how far we have fallen from the moral principles that once undergirded our nation.  T.V. programming focuses on violence, sex, and drugs to sell many programs and movies.  Likewise, there is easy access to pornography on the internet.  David said he would set no worthless thing before his eyes, yet, today, we have many Christians (even pastors) who have succumbed to pornography.  Others may not watch pornography but instead, watch violent movies, and play violent video games.  The question we need to ask ourselves is "Would we do this if Jesus was sitting next to us?"  Is this really pleasing to God that we are filling our minds with evil scenes?
     David goes on in the Psalm to say that he will not endure anyone with a haughty look or arrogant heart (vs 6).  Instead, He wants to keep company with those who are faithful and walk in a blameless manner before God.  There is wisdom in this.  Those who keep company with people who do not honor the Lord will find themselves falling into worldly patterns.  In addition, David says that no one who practices deceit or is a liar can remain in his presence (vs.7).  Once again, this is good advice.  The associates we spend time with do influence us either for good or for ill.  David hungered for righteousness before the Lord and wanted to live differently than the world.  The question is was he successful?
     We know from reading 2 Samuel 11 that David was not perfect.  He fell into adultery with Bathsheba and then, murdered her husband.  His lies to cover his tracks were not hidden from God.  When Nathan the Prophet uncovered his deceit, David repented and recognized that he had sinned against God.  We, too, shall fall from time to time and our integrity will be sullied just as David's was, but our hope is in the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord.  He can pick us up and restore us again to a life of integrity.
     On our own, we cannot hope to live an honest life.  It is only as we abide in the vine of our Savior that we are able to walk in holiness.  Nevertheless, we can stay true to the narrow path when we avoid watching things on T.V. or the internet which pull us away from God.  Likewise keeping accountable to Christian brothers and sisters and staying away from those who practice deceit goes a long way in keeping our feet on the road to sanctification.  We need to take a moral inventory of our lives and see if we are walking in integrity as my father did.  He had a powerful impact on my life because he lived what he believed.  We, too, can have a powerful impact on the lives of those around us by walking in honesty before both God and man.  Selah!

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