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July/August Issue 2011 - Volume 30 Number 4
Joyful Are People of Integrity
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm
“Joyful are people of integrity, who
follow the instructions of the Lord.” Psalm 119:1 (NLT)
This quotation from Psalm 119
is another one of the beatitudes from the Bible…the “blessed’s” or
the “joyful’s.” I have given it in both the New King James Version
and the New Living Translation.
passage answers three questions for us. First, who are people of
integrity? Second, how do we obtain integrity?
Third, what are the results of integrity?
are multitudes of people who strive for personal achievement. They want to
gain recognition; they want to be noticed in the world. Sometimes people
are not careful about how they obtain the recognition they desire. In
fact, sometimes they abandon character, honesty and moral virtue in a mad
dash to reach the top of their profession and solidify their bottom line.
Joy is not always the outcome of such endeavors.
dictionary defines integrity as the “firm adherence to a code of
especially moral values and incorruptibility.” This rule applies to the
common, secular standards of integrity. The Christian is called to an even
higher standard of integrity, but the Christian is also promised the
unlimited resources of the Lord Jesus to empower his quest for joyful
to the text the ones who have integrity are those who follow the Lord. The
Psalmist emphasizes that following the instructions of the Lord determines
who has integrity and he also shows how it is obtained…by following the
Lord’s instructions. There are no short cuts to true integrity.
or blessedness, is the promised result of true integrity. The Psalmist
further emphasizes that true happiness in life isn’t in things, it is in
character. The common and crude saying among the go-getters is that the
one who winds up with the most stuff in the end is the winner. How wrong
that is!! History is filled with stories of financially successful people
who were not joyful or happy. They were downright miserable. Why? Because
real joy is found in the character of Jesus living in us!
we truly seek God with our whole heart (Ps. 119:2) so that we find the
strength to walk in his ways and learn to understand God’s righteous
Bible says in Psalm 119:1-5, “1) Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who
walk in the law of the LORD. 2) Blessed are they that keep his
testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3) They also do
no iniquity: they walk in his ways. 4) Thou hast commanded us to keep
thy precepts diligently. 5) O that my ways were directed to keep thy
New Living Translation (NLT) says, “1) Joyful are people of integrity, who
follow the instructions of the Lord. 2)
Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. 3)
They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. 4)
You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. 5) Oh,
that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!”
to Psalm 119, those who truly possess integrity are those who “follow
the instructions of the Lord” (v.1).
They are a joyful people because they obey God’s laws and “search
for Him with all their hearts” (v.2).
Those who truly possess integrity are those who “walk
only in His paths”- they do not walk in the paths of evil (v.3).
They are diligent, careful, and consistent in keeping the
commandments of God (v.4-5).
word "integrity" comes
from the Latin word “integer”
meaning “untouched, whole, or complete”. Our
English word “entire” comes
from the same Latin root “integer”
by way of the French language. In
elementary mathematics we learned that whole numbers are integers.
Decimals and fractions are not integers, only whole numbers, like 1,
2, 3, and so on.
Christians, we should strive for wholeness and integrity in our service to
God. We should love God with
integrity. Jesus taught that the
greatest commandment was to “love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind” (Matt. 22:37). God
desires all of our love, not just a fraction of it, not just 99% of it- He
wants our love in its entirety! We
should also live with integrity. James
1:27 teaches us that pure religion requires that we keep ourselves “unspotted
from the world”- untouched, unpolluted by worldliness. Our
Christian lives should serve as living examples of God’s good, acceptable,
and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2). We should also worship with integrity.
In Exodus 20:24, God told the children of Israel to build an altar of
stones. God also said concerning
the stones of the altar, “Thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it,
thou hast polluted it” (Exo. 20:25).
The stones of the altar were to be untouched, whole, complete- stones
of integrity! These unpolluted
stones typify the type of true, unadulterated worship which God seeks even
today (Jn. 4:23-24). Integrity
should be ever-present as we love, live for, and worship our Heavenly
Father. Just as faith comes by
hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), integrity comes through obeying the
Word of God.
are people of integrity” (Ps. 119:1). Take
a moment to examine yourself. Is
integrity something which you possess in the sight of God?
Think about all the things you possess- your home, your car, your
clothes, etc. These earthly
possessions can be snatched away only in a matter of minutes.
On May 22nd, a tornado with wind speeds upward of 200 mph
ravaged the nearby city of Joplin, MO. Our
family members, friends, and co-workers were affected by this devastating
storm. Some lost their homes,
their cars, their clothes. Some
even lost loved ones. I
couldn’t help but think about Job in the sad days that followed this
to Job 1:1 (NLT), Job was “a man of complete integrity” and he didn’t let the storms of
life change that! Job lost all his livestock, all of his camels, and nearly
all of his hired servants. Last
of all, Job lost his 10 children in a tornado-like wind storm (Job 1:19).
Like so many in Joplin, Job lost many of the things which make life
so enjoyable. However, the one
thing Job didn’t lose was his integrity.
Job 2:9 says, “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?
curse God, and die.” At
the lowest point of his life, Job was able to muster the joy to worship the
Lord saying, “Blessed be the name of
the Lord” (Job 1:20-21). Where
did this joy come from? “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the
Lord” (Ps. 119:1, NLT).
The storms of life may come and take away your earthly possessions, but nothing can take away your integrity. This isn’t to say that you can’t forfeit your integrity. Indeed, we can and do forfeit our integrity when we fail to follow the instructions of the Lord. There is no joy to be found when we disobey the Lord. Instead of disobedience, we should keep a tight grip on our integrity, as did Job, striving always to walk in the law of the Lord. Job said in Job 27:4-6, “My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid that I should justify you [Job’s misguided friends]: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” Your integrity is an invaluable possession- guard it well.
you looking to get more joy out of life?
There’s an unsurpassable joy that comes from knowing the Christ who
died for us despite our sins and imperfections.
Oh, that our actions would always reflect the decrees of God’s Word
(Ps. 119:5)! As much as we
desire to walk perfectly in His ways, at times, we can expect to stumble and
fall. Christ died for this very
reason. When we stumble and
fall, Christ is always there with a nail-pierced hand to help us up.
He loved us first, but, it’s our love for Christ that keeps us
pursuing the straight and narrow path. There’s
much joy that comes from knowing what awaits us at the end of this straight
and narrow path - eternal life (Matt. 7:14).
THE RESULTS OF INTEGRITY
are the people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.”
defines integrity as uprightness, honesty and sincerity.
David, however, defines it more precisely and more personally as
those “who follow the instructions of the Lord.”
He says honest people are happier than dishonest people.
But don’t expect this to be supported by a poll somewhere.
A poll would require the input of dishonest people.
Therefore, who could believe the results?
It’s much simpler to trust God’s word in the matter and then obey
as Christ gave us the “Beatitudes” (Matt. 5:1-10) Moses gave to the
Jewish people a similar list which declared a person “blessed” or joyful
by “diligently obeying the voice of the Lord” (Deut. 28:1-6).
However, the difference between the two is much like the respective
covenants they represent. Moses
promised blessings that were material in nature while the Lords’ were
spiritual. Therefore, since the
Law of Moses has been taken out of the way (Col.2:14) we should expect
genuine blessings to come in spiritual form.
today it seems as if material blessings trump the spiritual.
In some respects the average church today resembles more closely the
church at Corinth or that at Laodicea, since the world holds sway over more
and more of them. “I could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as
to carnal, as to babes in Christ,” was Paul’s rebuke to the church at
Corinth (I Cor.3:1) and it seemed the Laodiceans were all about making a
good impression with their wealth. Christ,
however, exhorted them to pursue spiritual, eternal riches.
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you
may be rich” (Rev.3:18). Still, despite their great wealth, they were
“miserable.” What happened?
those who pursue happiness just for the sake of happiness are less apt to
find it. On the other hand,
those who pursue the enduring principles of integrity
will find an abundance of joy as well as other unexpected blessings.
For example, Solomon said, “He who walks with integrity, walks
securely” (Prov.10:9). Striving for integrity has the added benefit of
peace of mind. Do we instead
strive first for the security by way of an elaborate home security system
and then whenever a power failure disables it, crouch in horror?
is a calm assurance which money simply cannot buy and it is given by God
only to those who bind themselves to His standard of integrity.
“He is a shield to those who walk uprightly” (Prov.2:7).
Paul wrote: “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and
supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God and
the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:6).
Indeed, there is no more joyful person in this world than the one who
is at peace with God, himself and others.
however, is not exclusive to Christians.
Immoral, ruthless and hateful people experience joy too.
Haman, for example was just such a person (Est.5:9). One day as he
left the prestigious company of the King and Queen he was, for a moment,
full of joy. And yet in the
space of a few steps his elation quickly turned to indignation.
As he spotted Mordecai, sitting in the Kings gate, suddenly he was
filled with hatred so intense that only Mordecai’s death could restore
Haman’s happiness. How is it
possible then for people with zero integrity to experience joy at all, even
word of God seems to address two types of joy.
One is born of human emotion, which is transitory and shallow.
This is what Haman displayed and is virtual.
The other is born of the
Spirit of God (Gal.5:22), which is enduring and deep.
This is what Christ offers and is actual.
as a child, a day at the county fair was the epitome of ecstasy.
No greater rapture awaited me than riding a host of nausea inducing
machines which for the most part cost only twenty-five cents each.
Not a bad price for happiness. Unfortunately,
when the quarters ran out so did the joy.
Yet this kind of virtual bliss seems to be what Americans prefer
these days. Is it fun?
Better yet, is it exciting! Mainly, does the experience come with a
framed color portrait of our most ecstatic moment?
it or not, this type of fleeting joy has become problematic to say the
least. For believers and
unbelievers alike entertainment, and the means to provide it, has become
paramount in life. “Eat, drink
and be merry” is now the resurrected motto for all.
This dogged pursuit of virtual joy simply prepares the heart and mind
for the seeds of unrighteousness. And
wherever it takes root, integrity is almost certainly choked out.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of
the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world”
(I Jn. 2:16). “Right preacher,” you may scoff, “like I once rode the
Ferris wheel and now I’m headed for hell….Yea, right!”
if the Devil can manage to con us into swapping our joy in Christ for some
cheap imitation, he’s got us! After
all, his work in Eden was merely convincing humanity that one fruit was just
as good, if not better, than the other.
And he did just that. The
only difference was, in the end, their
eyes were opened and they we’re
ashamed. Today, folks have
settled for virtual joy,
superficial delights that, by their very nature, never completely satisfy.
Therefore, because they don’t they are increasingly ingested, like
crack cocaine. Or like children
at the county fair we’ve become very adept at finding more quarters.
you doubt it, consider the hours spent pursuing virtual
joy via the TV, I-pods, Wiis, texting, movies, concerting, ball games,
camping, fishing, hunting, hobbies, skiing, mountain climbing, fourwheeling,
traveling, golfing, board games, cards, dominoes, Sudoku, etc., etc., etc,
consider the hours spent pursuing actual
joy via reading the Word of God, worshiping, praying, visiting the sick,
helping our neighbors, teaching the lost, comforting the grieving,
encouraging the weak, feeding the hungry and so forth.
If we do the math, and provided we have integrity, we may be shocked.
pursuit of virtual joy imparts some value.
Even Paul acknowledged this. “Bodily
exercise profits a little” (I Tim 4:8); however, the pursuit of integrity
(godliness) “is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that
now is and of that which is to come.”
The difference is clear and should be emphasized in closing.
Virtual joy, though having some
value, has no promise of the life
that now is or of that which is to come. In
addition, virtual joy, which is a form of self-seeking (Ja.3:16 NKJ) is
something that is pursued whereas actual
joy is the results of striving for
something outside of ourselves, something that’s as much a blessing to
others as it is to us. In this
case, integrity fits the bill.
for the Joy that was set before
Him endured the cross…..”(Heb.12:2)
- Number 4 -
Jul/Aug 2011 BC
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Gage, PO Box 3425, Fayetteville, AR 72702-3425
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