Proverbs 11:3 – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them.
Most of the proverbs of Solomon are stand-alone nuggets of wisdom providing a snapshot of insight into a specific aspect of life. In chapter 11, however, there are several similar proverbs grouped together in the same passage that carry a consistent message. Here are some of those examples.
Proverbs 11:5 – The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness.
Proverbs 11:6 – The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.
Proverbs 11:23 – The desire of the righteous turns out well, but the hope of the wicked leads to wrath.
All of these proverbs are centered around the actions of the righteous or upright, those exhibiting integrity. The integrity they have is represented as guiding them, clearing a path for them and rescuing them, with the end result being favorable for them.
The same Hebrew word used for integrity is the same word found in only one other book of the Bible: Job. Job was consistent in maintaining his integrity or innocence before God.
Job 2:3, 9-10 – Then Yahweh said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited me against him, to destroy him for no good reason.” … His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die! ” “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity? ” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.
Job 27:3-6 – as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit. I will never affirm that you are right. I will maintain my integrity until I die. I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!
Job 31:5-6 – If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has rushed to deceit, let God weigh me on accurate scales, and he will recognize my integrity.
True to the wisdom of the proverbs, Job was ultimately rewarded for his faithfulness. By holding on to his integrity through the worst of circumstances, he was guided on a cleared path through his adversity and rescued out of his troubles. In the end he was blessed more abundantly than before his troubles had begun.
I recognize that most people typically view Job as an example of questioning God when bad things happen to good people. However, I think there is an opportunity to see just how courageous someone has to be to maintain their integrity and blamelessness amidst the harshest of physical circumstances while having extended dialogues with those of contrary opinion.
As believers in Messiah, we should be challenged by Job’s example as to how far we are willing to go to stand for the principles of integrity. Paul wrote to the Romans to remind them of their status before God because of their faith in Messiah:
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua Messiah.
Paul also wrote to Titus to encourage his congregation to maintain a righteous and godly life:
Titus 2:11-12 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age…
We live daily amidst cultural influences which constantly assault our belief in right beliefs and right actions. May we be emboldened to say with Job: “as long as my breath is still in me and the breath from God remains in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly, and my tongue will not utter deceit,” and “I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!” If we do so, then according to the wisdom of Solomon, the righteousness and integrity we have by faith will guide us, clear a path for us, and rescue us, allowing God to favor us as he sees fit in this life and into eternity.
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