Sunday, June 18, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 25, Wisdom Protects Our Integrity

Solomon is a man who values integrity. He does not believe we can possess this quality without godly wisdom. The dictionary definition of integrity is, "adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty". The thesaurus says integrity is the same thing as "being honest, principled, sincere, good, honorable, righteous, decent, moral, possessing restraint, virtuous, consistent, dependable, faithful, loyal, diligent, stable, trustworthy, reverent, obedient, and respectful". Who knew integrity was all these wonderful things? I thought it simply meant to be an honest person, but it means so much more. To Solomon it means being a hard and dependable worker. He says it means being a person who does what is right and not what is evil. He feels it means being a person whose mouth speaks helpful words and not harmful words. To him, to possess integrity means to be honest and humble and obedient to the Lord.

He begins by pointing out that the person with integrity is a hard worker, someone who can be trusted to do his best. "As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggards to those who send them." (Proverbs 10:26) He says, "It's so annoying to have someone lazy working for you! They can't complete the simplest errand without taking forever. Having to deal with a lazy employee is as irritating as getting smoke in your eyes. It sets your teeth on edge like tasting a spoonful of straight vinegar. When you send them out on your business, the whole time you're waiting impatiently with your eyes all squinted up and your teeth grinding together because you know they aren't reliable."

"The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short." (Proverbs 10:27) We may have no control over our genetics, but we do have control over whether or not we live a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and as such they are deserving of respect and care. We are the ambassadors of Christ in this world and we can better perform our duties if we are healthy in body. If we respect the Lord we can't help respecting these bodies He gave us. We want to do the very best we can for the Lord, and that will entail keeping ourselves fit for service. But Solomon says the wicked cut their years short on the earth. They abuse their health with substances. They take reckless chances. They don't respect God, they don't respect their fellow man, and they don't respect themselves.

"The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing." (Proverbs 10:28) The promises of God's word belong to the righteous. No one can take our joy in Christ away from us. But the wicked desire the wrong things and, even if they obtain them, these things will never bring them true joy because they lack the ability to fulfill the soul.

"The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil. The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land." (Proverbs 10:29-30) We don't pull up the flowers when we're tending our gardens; we pull up the weeds. In the same way the Lord will never uproot the righteous, but the weeds He will pluck out. 

"From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced. The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse." (Proverbs 10:31-32) The king advises, "You can't trust a word that comes out of a wicked person's mouth. If you need spiritual guidance you must go to a godly person. You need to seek advice from someone who has integrity, someone who is faithful to the Lord."

The person with integrity is honest. "The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with Him." (Proverbs 11:1) The Lord is very unhappy when we defraud someone. There will be times in our lives when we have the opportunity to cheat someone, and we might even be able to do it without ever being caught, but our Father in heaven will see it. Have you ever heard the saying that the test of your integrity is what you would do if you knew you wouldn't be caught? God is going to bless us for refusing to do wrong even when we could have gotten away with it. 

The person with integrity is humble, recognizing the authority of the Lord. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2) It's hard to learn anything when we already think we know it all. A humble spirit is a teachable spirit. A humble spirit is of great value in the sight of God because a humble spirit is a spirit He can work with. 

The person with integrity lives a life of purpose, a life of direction, a life with goals, and a life that achieves things for the kingdom of God. "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." (Proverbs 11:3) When we possess the integrity that comes from godly wisdom, we have an inbuilt spiritual GPS. We can feel in our spirit whether a decision is sinful or not. The Holy Spirit troubles our consciences when we get off the right path and says, "Make a u-turn now". Honest living will keep us out of a lot of trouble. But the one who is dishonest will get himself in all sorts of jams. He will get in trouble with his neighbors and co-workers, with the legal system, and with the Lord. He will have little of value to show for his life. But the person who walks in integrity earns a good name. The person with integrity has many things of value to show for his life. The person of integrity can look back on his life and feel satisfied with it.

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