“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” Proverbs 19:1-3 (ESV)
Integrity. It's hard to come by these days and even harder to keep. Over the last decade, we have watched countless leaders in the church fall from heights of greatness. From mega-church leaders to people you will never know their name, no one is too big or too small that they do not need to guard their integrity. I remember when a pastor (that I sat under at their church for several years) had a huge falling out over sin their life that became a problem with their personal and professional integrity. I was broken and hurt. To see a person that I had trusted and listened to for 3+ years emerge from darkness of their own pride and not want to repent and make things better was a painful experience. It was also a good reminder that no one is about making terrible choices that could hurt your family, friends, church, and even a staff of people.
Solomon says that its better to stay poor and keep you integrity that to be rich and have your life ruined by the folly of your ways. Knowledge and wisdom will keep you and I on the right path as we go through this life. We are all a few key choices away from becoming a fool and making some choices that could ruin our lives and the lives of those we love. When desire becomes the driver of you life, it's like you are speeding down the highway with no regard for the posted speed. You can get away with speeding for a while (maybe even a long time), but sooner or later you are going to get pulled over. The same is true in your personal and professional life when you let desire drive faster than knowledge can go. If you want to make it to the end of your life full of wisdom and integrity, consider taking a slower pace and do not outrun knowledge.
“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape. Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.” Proverbs 19:5-6 (ESV)
2 Corinthians 9:7 says that, "...God loves a cheerful giver." Giving is not just something you do a few times a month (though practicing generosity with your local church is a great thing!), but it's more about the way you live your life. Are you a generous person who gives great gifts? I imagine you can think of someone right now who you instantly think about when you read verse 6 or Proverbs chapter 19. Generous people don't give to be famous or to be praised, but the result of someone who is generous is that people will remember who you are. Generous people can't help but share generously with others who are in need; it's just what is inside of them coming out.
The same is true for people who bear false witness and lie. They will not go unpunished for their lies. Solomon is very serious all through the book of Proverbs that God does not approve of lying to people or manipulating others for personal gain. We have read several verses in these devotionals that speak to the consequences of bearing false witness. Just like the generous person who is known by others, a liar will be known by their actions as well. You can live in lies or you can live in the freedom of generosity, but you can't do both at the same time.
Stick close to knowledge (Reflect and Respond)
“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. A worthless witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity. Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and beating for the backs of fools. Proverbs 19:27-29 (ESV)
Are you listening to the words of sound instruction? It can be tempting to feel like you have accomplished all the learning you need and that you are ready to move beyond that instruction to new pastures. But at the end of the day, we all can still be students of wisdom and knowledge. We have not yet reached any kind of level of perfection, and we all still have a ways to go before this journey is over. So keep walking in wisdom, keep fighting for truth and light. The world needs more generous people who are willing to heed words of instruction