Learning about integrity by reviewing its opposites

Contrasts in the Proverbs help to provide clarity.

The Proverbs of Solomon provide us some insight into the life of integrity by contrasting integrity with its opposites. By viewing what integrity is not, we can gain a better understanding of what it is and how it is beneficial to those who practice it.

Proverbs 10:9 – The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out.
Proverbs 10:29 – The way of Yahweh is a stronghold for the honorable, but destruction awaits the malicious.
Proverbs 13:6 – Righteousness guards people of integrity, but wickedness undermines the sinner.

In these three proverbs, we see integrity and the way of Yahweh contrasted with those who are responsible for twisting and distortion, those who make trouble or sorrow, and wickedness that overturns those who are sinful.

However, on the positive side, it can also be noted that integrity is associated with security and protection. Living and acting with integrity can provide safety from the consequences of those who are sinful and willing to cause pain and suffering to others for their own benefit.

Proverbs 19:1 – Better a poor person who lives with integrity than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool.
Proverbs 28:6 – Better the poor person who lives with integrity than the rich one who is crooked in their ways.

In these proverbs, the one who lives with integrity is contrasted with two other types of individuals: those who are arrogant, foolish, and who distort the truth with their speech, along with those who are twisted in their ways. One of the common negative characteristics of these individuals is this idea of crookedness, twisting their speech, distorting the truth. People who act like this cannot be trusted because they will simply manipulate situations to their advantage.

It is interesting that these negative characteristics are generally, though not exclusively, associated with those who are rich, while integrity is associated with humility of circumstance.

Proverbs 2:7 – He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity
Proverbs 20:7 – A righteous person acts with integrity; his children who come after him will be happy.

Here we see the benefits associated with living a life of integrity. Those who have integrity are considered righteous. There is protection and longevity of benefit for their families associated with doing what’s right, extending even to their children.

From this brief survey of integrity in the Proverbs, we can glean the advantages of living righteously according to the way of Yahweh over those who exploit others and busy themselves with constantly striving to gain advantage for themselves. Solomon encourages humble circumstances with doing what’s right over wealth and subterfuge.

These positive traits of integrity are consistent with what Yeshua presented in the Sermon on the Mount regarding purity of heart, doing what’s right, and magnifying God. In his way of thinking, to individuals such as these belong the kingdom of God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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