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Integrity in the Faith

March 21st, 2018

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… (Psalm 101:1-2 ESV)

David’s psalm describes the source of his integrity and the manner in which it impacted his personal life and his relationships with others.

  • The source of his standard was God’s steadfast love and justice
  • God’s character impacted his personal life in his thoughts and private life
  • He then, as king, acted justly in dealing with others

These three are the basic steps we all need to take if we will be people of integrity.

God’s standard

First, the standard we use must not be our own capricious, flawed thoughts. It should be God’s standard, not our own personal preferences, or what others have told us, or what we may “feel” is the right thing to do at the moment. Some people’s thoughts of what is the right thing to do come from very shallow sources – their own anger and desire for revenge, the impure thoughts of our friends who are influenced by their own hurts and wounds, or the latest movie we might have seen or romance novel we might have read.

God’s standard is pure and holy. “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19) “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17). David longed not only for the knowledge of the Word of God, but also the presence of God’s Spirit to guide him to understand it.

David’s private thoughts

The second essential element of living in integrity is to honor God’s standard, once we know it, in our own private life. He “pondered” on the truth of God, which meant his basic approach was positive – not merely to avoid the impure but to take into his heart and his mind the pure truth and pure ways of God. Within his own house he would walk with integrity before the Lord. The original Hebrew word was tome and it meant wholeness or integrity. When a ship does not leak or a building is solid and securely built we say they have integrity. To lose their integrity means that the ship leaks and will sink, and that the building is structurally unsound and might fall. Integrity is that quality in our life that keeps us solid, sound, and secure.

David went on to say in his psalm: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (101:3). He protected his own thoughts. This seems like a description of a life that was free from enslavement to pornography, and it certainly included such a thought – that David did not have a wandering eye that lusted after women. (We remember the time that lust did enter his heart with Bathsheba and the tragedy that followed – 2 Samuel 12.)

But from the context we see that his protection of his heart did not end there. He also avoided gossipers, proud and arrogant men, liars and evildoers. Pornography is an evil addition of many people – one that God can cure us of if we will let Him – but it is not the only evil in the world. David realized he was subject to temptation, to be drawn away from God’s will, so he kept his heart with all diligence.

David’s dealing with others

As king he held a judicial role, a divinely given obligation to winnow out evil from his presence. From Moses onward, the leaders of Israel had an obligation to bring justice to the people (Exodus 18:13). Though this psalm focused on removing from his presence and even destroying evil men, this was merely a prelude to the greater goal, and that is to establish justice in the land.

Jesus summed this matter up by saying:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:3-5 ESV)

If we want to help others we must (1) know what God’s standard of right and wrong is, (2) we must adopt this in our own lives, confessing our faults, surrendering to God our ways, blocking from our lives all evil and impure influences, and (3) do and help others to do the right thing.

The biggest error we usually make in this process is to ignore the second step of personally adopting the principles and righteousness of God. We falsely think that all that matter is that we know what is right and tell others to do it. But unless we also embrace it personally, we are mere puppets and not true disciples or true followers of Christ.

 

 

Evening Devotionals, Uncategorized

A New Look at People

March 7th, 2018

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. … Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.b The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

The natural man looks at everyone through the lens of fallen human nature – ours and theirs. We do not forget faults, rather we focus on them and let them be the defining factor of who they are, or who we are. We are quick to judge and may ruthlessly criticize, spelling hopelessness for them and for us.

In Christ, however, we see everyone differently. We see ourselves as special projects of grace – forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, restored, set in a new path with a new future. We see others also with the promise of redemption – even if they do not yet believe, we see what they could become in Christ.

None of this needs to be deliberately ignorant of sin, for redemption required the death of Christ for our sin. But neither is sin the final word on anybody. Grace is!

Who do you have trouble with? Who do you struggle with? Let the grace of God in Christ – either in reality because that person has believed, or in potentiality because that person could believe – be the defining factor on considering every person – even yourself!

2 Corinthians, Evening Devotionals