The dictionary defines integrity as being honest, strong moral principles and moral uprightness. In Psalm 26 King David boasted that he had walked in integrity and is walking in integrity. He had made a choice early on to choose that manner of life. It is a consistency in our actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. Interestingly, the opposite of integrity, truth and light, is hypocrisy which is a false façade of being a person with integrity but inwardly choosing the opposing forces of deception and darkness. These will be exposed as King David revealed in Psalm 26 as one views the lifestyle and associations of a person. Jesus remarked that just as a tree bears fruit so does a person and they will be known by them.
In the field of computers there is a pun known as “GIGO” which equals “garbage in garbage out.” Although technologically proficient a computer has no brain. In fact computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data (garbage in) and produce nonsensical output (garbage out). How often do we behave in this manner? This is why Paul emphasized that we as a people of God must wisely develop a mindset. King David wrote that he loved the Law of God and meditated upon it day and night. What does your mind dwell upon? Paul gave us some parameters on which we should dwell. The first step is to measure our thoughts by using this as a yardstick: think about whatever is true, worthy of respect, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy. But, it does not end there; one must then take the next step and put into practice what you have meditated upon so that we produce fruits of righteousness.
If we want to be a people of integrity who can say that they have walked and are continuing to walk in this manner it begins in the mind. That is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians: we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ. [2Co 10:5] and to the Romans he challenged to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” It is then that we can like David boast that we have walked and are continuing to walk in integrity.
Today’s questions are (1) on what are you meditating and (2) where is your mindset and (3) what are you practicing?
There is a story that has circulated about a tour group in an art gallery. After the initial description of the painting titled “Checkmate” all moved on but one man who was an expert chess player. The painting reveals a chess game between the devil and Faust who had sold his soul to the devil. It appears from the smirk on the devil’s face that he has won and is ready to announce “Checkmate!” But, after studying the painting the chess player noted that the devil had not won and the king had one more move. The enemy of our souls wants us to think that he has won and is ready to announce Checkmate but the truth is found here in Proverbs 11: The King of Kings has one more move.
As believers in Christ, the righteous want to know how to move and live in a world that seems as complicated as a chess game. But, if we study and meditate we find that the next move is found in God’s Word which is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [2Ti 3:16] The enemy would have us think he has the last move and that life is over. But God shows us what life is really all about using the characters of righteousness, truth, humility and integrity vs the characters of wicked, prideful, despair. Each of us chooses to moves in our walk of life and God has given us free will to choose. We can become His ears, hands, feet to a dying world devoid of the love of God or we can choose not His way but our way. Thirteen times in this chapter the word or a form of the word “righteous” is given as a trait that delivers one from all kinds of danger. The contrast is glaring in vs. 23 “What the righteous desire leads only to good, but what the wicked hope for leads to wrath.” Dr. Ross writes: “Since life and death result from moral choices, righteousness must be pursued. . .”
God made the first move which was to offer His Son for our salvation. Will you this day choose to follow Him? The King of Kings has one more move for you if you will choose.
How often through our day we find ourselves asking the “why” question? Why does a child disobey the parent? Why does my friend scoff and sneer? Why does it seem that a word spoken is taken differently than what I intended it to be? Why does it seems like God is silent and far away? It is at those time I need this reminder: God is as near as the whisper of the wind in the willows, as near as the soft clouds as they float across the sky, as near as the breath of life we take each moment.
In psalm 42 and 43, the psalmist asks two questions: Why do I go about mourning? Why are you cast down O my soul?
If we were honest we have those days when we question the same things. David had reason to mourn because of the constant threat of the enemies seeking his life. He missed the fellowship and the tabernacle. He missed the worship time with others.
Fast forward and we can also see and hear our Savior on the cross hearing the religious leaders and bystanders ask the same age old question the psalmist heard: Where is your God now? He saved others but he cannot save himself. It is at that point that vs 10 seems to be the cry of the heart “My enemies’ taunts cut into me to the bone.” This is how life seems to the psalmist as well. Where is God when he needs him? His heart aches but his intellect says: hope in God! We can recall the promise of Jesus: I will never leave you nor forsake you. No matter the circumstance this is what we need to do as the palmist did: I will pray to God while I am trapped; I will recall God’s lovingkindness and the song He has put in my heart and in my prayers.
King Solomon said there is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”[Eccl 3] But in those times we can echo: Hope thou in God for He is steadfast and He hears our heart. Our circumstances may not change but our heart and focus do change. That is why we can find solace, peace and joy in our deepest times. Today, if this is your lot in life and you are down, take heart, you are not alone. Both the psalmist and our Savior experienced this and they turned to God to lift themselves out of the miry clay. May you do the same.
I have come to the conclusion that the Fruit that is missing from my tree is gentleness so Galatians 6 is riveting to my soul. So I might ask you to examine your fruit tree and see if you are missing something as I am. My gentle bough is barren and the wise and prudent Pruner of my soul is doing His job of pruning that I might produce much fruit not just any fruit. Right now he is working on my bough which is supposed to bear gentleness.
As I come to the end the book of Galatians it is with a grateful heart that I hear Paul tell me how to deal with those who are seeking to undermine my freedom in Christ. He speaks as a tender parent to his children. He includes all of us and it with that frame of mind that I share what I have gleaned.
If we are spiritual, that is one who is walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit we will be known. It is to these that Paul addresses his last piece of counsel. As he begins: Brothers and sisters; we can see that no one is left to wonder to whom he is speaking. Secondly, if you are spiritual this is your task: restore sinners in the spirit of gentleness. By implication it means mildness, humility, meekness. Is this not the picture of Christ?
Is 40:11 Like a shepherd he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along.
Matt 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Tenderly gathering those who have wandered away Christ leads them back to the fold. That is my & our responsibility to the wandering sinners in our flock. Gentleness is our gift from the indwelling Holy Spirit and only comes when we allow him full reign in our hearts. It comes full circle when we can exemplify it by realizing how much Christ hates sin and how much he loves the sinner to whom he is calling. Thus as a believer in Christ it behooves us if we are obedient to be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. [Eph 4] That is the spirit of gentleness.
So how full is your gentle cup today; is it half full or half empty? The fountain of living water is ready to fill your cup if you are willing. Jesus says: “let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge.” [Rev 22]