A life of integrity is forged in the constant pursuit of righteousness.
Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Yahweh, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalm 143:10 – Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
The person of integrity is one who intently seeks to know the truth of God. They desire to walk in that way, to conform their lives to what God desires of them. They have made seeking God the passion of their life, hungering to know him more and to know the correct way according to his Word. They will not rest until they have heard a word from God, until he has shown them the next steps on their path.
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Psalm 63:1 – “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.”
Psalm 107:9 – “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
The Psalms are well-known among believers because they are filled with this type of pleading to God for guidance, for pouring out praise to God and outwardly declaring a desire for righteousness in speech and in action.
As believers, we identify with the passionate expression of these principles, because we are ignited with the same Spirit. The kindred longings and desires of our hearts beat in unison with those faithful who have gone before and expressed their deepest secrets which are immortalized among the pages of Scripture. The integrity that lived and breathed in them inspires us to learn of their ways and mimic their faithfulness.
However, a passionate love for the things of God brings with it a passionate opposition to those who would speak or act in defiance to the one true God. The psalms are also sprinkled with statements of curses against non-believers; those who would decry the authority of God. These imprecatory or cursing psalms stand in stark contrast to the more syrupy, love-filled passages.
Psalm 26:5 – “I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.”
Psalm 31:6, 17-18 – “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in Yahweh…Do not let me be put to shame, O Yahweh, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol. Let the lying lips be stilled that speak insolently against the righteous with pride and contempt.”
Psalm 68:1 – “Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.”
Psalm 101:3 – “I will not set before my eyes anything that is base. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
This passionate aversion to the practices of the wicked is a natural by-product of a passionate love for God. However, we need to recognize that God does not condone outright acts of hatred against the wicked. The fact that these psalms have given voice to the emotional loathing of anyone who stands against God does not carry with it a tacit permission to destroy them.
We are constrained by the teachings of Yeshua to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, to do only good toward them and to seek their best interest. But that does not mean we have removed all sense of disdain for the wicked practices they may do. It is our responsibility to love without conceding to their immorality, to serve without bitter resolve toward their destructive behavior .
The eleventh chapter of the epistle of Hebrews speaks to a long list of those who demonstrated their faith and integrity through their actions. But when we consider the depth of their commitment to the one true God, our own faith seems to pale by comparison:
Hebrews 11:33-38 – “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two,[l] they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”
This is the spiritual stock of those who would seek after God today. We must seek ways to become the hardy believers like they were, living without compromise in their time. The integrity of their faith led them to uncompromising conflict with the culture around them, and many of them gave their lives in honor of the God of the universe. They represented him against the rebelliousness of their generations.
In what ways do we compromise today?
- We try to stand with an incomplete knowledge of the Hebrew culture and social structure, and instead try to interpret the Bible through the lens of our current societal standards.
- We fall into the “us-against-them” mentality by subdividing the singular truth of the kingdom into denominations and hierarchies causing unnatural rivalries as to which group is “right.”
- We attempt to support the temporal politics of the land when we should instead focus on the eternal kingdom that supersedes any political issue.
- We attempt to manage current, popular social issues and conflict as simply being new ways of expression rather than confronting the degradation and erosion of biblical moral values that are eternal.
As an antidote to these compromises, we should seek the opposite in each case.
- We need to cultivate teachers who understand the Hebrew culture and can express the New Covenant within the context it was intended. Yeshua was not an American or European; he was not just a philosopher or great moral teacher. He was the Messiah of the Hebrew people, and the spiritual leader of all Israel.
- We need to stop creating new congregations founded on differences of minor theological emphasis and instead seek to find ways to reconcile with other believing congregations. We are all one in Messiah, but apparently not on paper.
- We need to recognize that politics are fueled by controversy for the sake of argument, and that bringing that mentality into the congregation of believers only causes further strife and division among ourselves. Spirituality and moral behavior are not something that can be legislated.
- We need to remain firm in standing against sinful social behavior; yet we need to reach out with love to those who are not believers to help them understand that principles of race, gender and sexuality are settled issues in God’s eyes. Rather than lash out in ignorance, we need to educate ourselves as to how to knowledgeably and lovingly confront the error of defiance toward the authority of God. Of course, we should not be advocates for hate, but we certainly cannot be advocates for sin.
Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
This race we are in is not a sprint that is over after a burst of effort and energy. No, the lives we live are long-distance endurance rallies, challenging us at every turn with new obstacles attempting to wear us down and cause us not to quit, but to compromise. Once we accept the premise of cultural degradation, our message becomes diluted by non-essentials.
For which social or political principle or ethic would you be willing to be tortured, sawn in two, flogged, stoned or killed? Now consider which theological or spiritual position you would be willing to put your life on the line for? I dare say the integrity and faith of our spiritual forebears tends to quickly bring the essentials into focus.
Our integrity is based on how we pull these disparate concepts together and yet honor God with our speech and our actions. I believe we should find ways to maintain a perspective that recalls the faithfulness of generations before us, and that we should do everything in our power to seek to emulate them.
1 Kings 8:57-58 – “The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors; may he not leave us or abandon us, but incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.”
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