The Blessing of Integrity
“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” (Proverbs 20:7)
Can you name three people whom you would describe as having integrity? Furthermore, do you know people who had parents who had integrity? Honesty and reliability may be considered old-fashioned values today, but God never has and will never devalue integrity of character, in believers or unbelievers. “Transparent integrity makes one trustworthy and endows him with a good reputation.” (1) Honesty that comes from the heart of a peacemaker is no exclusive to believers. In his commentary on Jonah, Timothy Keller found this commentary about the sailors on the ship with Jonah: “…believers are to respect and learn from the wisdom God gives to those who don’t believe. The pagan sailors [in Jonah 1:5-11] provide a graphic portrayal of what theologians have called “common grace…,” hope, justice, and integrity reside not with Jonah…but with the captain and the sailors…Though blameless victims, the sailors never cry injustice. Finding themselves in a dangerous situation not of their making, they seek to solve it for the good of all. Never do they wallow in self-pity, berate an angry god…condemn an arbitrary world, target the culprit Jonah for vengeance, or promote violence as an answer.” (2)
I am afraid that Christians (including me) sometimes think they alone are wise and right. However, God, in his general grace, gives much wisdom to others; believers should be the first to recognize and appreciate it. In Jonah’s case, he wisely submitted to the sailor’s question, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.” (v. 11) Jonah then took responsibility for the trouble he was causing them by his deceit and rebelliousness. As a result, the sailors then cried out to Jonah’s God rather than to other gods. “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” (Jonah 1:14)
When Christians recognize the way God works through non-Christians, and in fact through everyone and everything in the world, we begin to see as biblically—so that all who are around us will benefit, even those who are caught up in our unsuccessful schemes to reject God’s plans for us through self-deception or fear. By submitting to God’s wisdom in others our children and friends see that honesty and ourselves and integrity in our relationships will bless everyone. Job had great integrity. (Job 27:1-6). Job’s friend, Eliphaz, knew Job intimately and asked him “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” (Job 4:6) David wrote, “May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.” (Psalms 25:21)
As you interact with others during this Christmas season, will you look for and encourage those with integrity, who wish to do what is best, blessing everyone? With each interaction with others, we have an opportunity to be honest, reliable, and trustworthy. How can you be this person?
(1) Brownback, Lydia. Proverbs: A 12-Week Study, Location 975, Crossway. Kindle Edition.
(2) Keller, Timothy, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy(p. 39), Penguin Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2018.