Walk in Integrity
"Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely. Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father." Proverbs 28:5 - 7 (ESV)
Which is better, poverty with integrity or crooked riches? While choosing integrity with poverty may seem like the harder choice in the short run (I mean, who would not like some riches?), integrity is going to save you in the end. Every year we see pastors, leaders, and other important people in society get caught up in scandals and bad behavior behind the scenes which causes them to be removed from their church, job, or leadership position. In the last decade, we’ve seen well-known names fall, seemingly overnight, because they did not walk in integrity. Their riches (whether literal or figurative) could only carry them so far.
Living a life of integrity is not easy. Walking in wisdom is not easy. We must surround yourself with friends who are willing to have hard conversations with you, who will help you along this journey of life. Seeking justice and walking in truth are not tasks for the faint of heart; it takes real internal fortitude to serve God. Don't make the journey alone! Walk in integrity and walk with friends who can stand up for you when you are weak and, in return, share their load when they need a helping hand.
Talk about Transgressions
"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity." Proverbs 28:13 - 14 (ESV)
Yesterday, we talked about using our heart as a tool for reflection. It is important to consider the health of our heart (both physically and spiritually) because it drives our actions and words. What happens when our heart is hard and cold? Proverbs says that we will fall into calamity. Calamity is a disaster that can come upon suddenly causing great distress. Imagine a forest fire quickly taking over a forest or an earthquake that lays an area in ruin.
When our heart is hard, we are prime candidates for calamity. Proverbs uses the heart metaphor to help us recognize the directional nudges the Lord gives us. When we’re hard-hearted, we’re more likely to walk into bad situations; our hard hearts close our eyes and ears to truth.
When we have hardened our hearts, it’s easier to conceal our transgressions. David, in Psalm 51, confesses his sins to God and comes clean about his actions. He asks God in verse 10 to "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." David stopped running from his sins and confessed them to God. The pathway is no different for us if we want to soften our hearts and prosper. Confession is good for the soul; confession is a reminder that we are not perfect and need a Savior. We are never going to be perfect - pretending you are is not going to give us a life of wisdom and prosperity. Just like David, our sins will eventually become known. Even if no one else on earth knows, God knows. Don't conceal your transgressions any longer, confess them to God, and receive His mercy.
Don't Be Crooked
"Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:18 - 20 (ESV)
Every few years, another get-rich-quick scheme comes around. It's been happening for decades, but we never seem to learn from the past and we get excited all over again about the prospect of bypassing hard work to get the reward. The reality is those schemes usually make someone else wealthy and we rarely receive anything we’re promised. Each of us wants to be found faithful at the end of our lives, but the only way to experience that is through daily work.
Verse 19 says that we will have what we need if we work the land. I am not a farmer, but I do understand that you have to plant, water, prune, and prepare for the harvest. One day in the field is not going to bring any kind of return; it takes time and hard work to reap the harvest.
Reflect and Respond
Are you walking with integrity today? Are you investing in things that matter? Or, are you hiding your transgressions and hoping no one will notice? Take some time to reflect on your actions and ask God to open your eyes so you may clearly see yourself. Confess your sins; He is faithful to forgive and set us back on the road to righteousness.