Integrity and Good Judgment

Walking in Integrity
Proverbs 19:1-3 ESV

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
Desire without knowledge is not good,
and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the Lord.”

“Poor” can mean “poor in the eyes of the world,” i.e., it doesn’t necessarily have to mean only poor financially, but it can mean “poor in spirit.” Or it can have to do with someone who is not prominent or popular in the eyes of the world, someone who does not have worldly charm, who is unpretentious, who is just who he says he is and who doesn’t try to impress people.

Those who are “crooked in speech” can merely be those who feel as though they must lie to people to make them feel good about themselves, because they were taught that “white lies” were being kind and polite. But lies are never kind, no matter how you may dress them up. And withholding necessary and/or obligatory truth from people is also a lie.

But those who are “crooked in speech” are also those who lie intentionally to deceive, to mislead, to harm, to deter, to sway, to manipulate, to use, to abuse, and to take advantage of others for their own personal benefit or for their own fleshly lusts and desires. And this may lead to such grievous lies that it causes people actual mental and/or physical harm and even death.

So, it is better to be a “nobody” in this world, and to not be on popular demand, and to not be invited to social gatherings of people, and to not be widely accepted and loved by a lot of people, and to even be despised and rejected by the many, and to be a person who walks in integrity, who is honest, trustworthy, moral, upright, and honorable.

For, although you may gain lots of friends by being dishonest, and by saying to them only what they want to hear, and only what makes them feel good, even if it is a big fat lie, you are doing them harm, not good. Thus, how you are treating them is not with love but with hate. For you are putting yourself and your reputation above their true needs and above God and his demands.

For, you are more concerned with people liking you than you are with them knowing the Lord and walking in purity of devotion to him and being genuinely saved from their sins, having the hope of eternal life with God. For, you are more concerned over your own reputation than you are with telling the truth that will set people free from their bondage to sin.

Fickle Friends
Proverbs 19:4,6-7 ESV

“Wealth brings many new friends,
but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
Many seek the favor of a generous man,
and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
All a poor man’s brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends go far from him!
He pursues them with words, but does not have them.”

Again, I am going to go with a broader definition of “wealthy” and “poor,” as I did in the previous section, to broaden the scope of what is being taught here to cover more territory, but with the same objective in mind. For, it isn’t just material wealth which brings many new friends, but it is doing whatever people like, giving them what they want, that brings friends.

If we are people who always give people what they want, which could be material things, or it could be messages they want to hear, and if we willfully avoid giving them what they don’t want and what they don’t want to hear, even if we know it is the truth, and even if we know it is the truth that saves lives, then we care more about ourselves than we do about them.

Yes, people tend to like and to be drawn to those who only give them what they desire, and who only say what makes them feel good. So, if you are a person of integrity, who speaks the truth in love, who speaks what people need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear, be prepared to be despised, rejected, “defriended,” and “unfollowed.”

Whoever Gets Sense
Proverbs 19:8-9,11 ESV

“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
he who keeps understanding will discover good.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish.
Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

“Sense” is good judgment, discernment, wisdom, and common sense which lead one to do what is morally right and to avoid doing what is morally wrong. So, if we have good sense, we are making good decisions, wise decisions which will be for our physical, mental, and spiritual welfare. We will choose life instead of death, because we chose the ways of God, not of man.

If we are lacking in good sense, in good judgment, we will follow after our feelings, our emotions, and we will go with the lusts of our flesh instead of going with God and sound judgment, prudence, and discretion. So, we will tell lies to cover up secret sins, we will commit adultery against our spouses, we will engage in sexual immorality, and we will do all manner of evil.

Those who make lying their practice end up having to lie to cover up more lies, so the lies get piled on, and they even begin believing their own lies, for they tell them so much. And they may be able to get away with this for a very long time, but it won’t be forever. One day everything will be exposed and all the lies that are being told will be revealed and will be judged.

So, it is imperative and it is better to have good sense than to be lacking in good sense and judgment. Good (and godly) sense will lead us in the right direction, on the path of righteousness, and the lack thereof will send us on a course to our deaths. And overlooking an offense does not mean placating sin, it just means being willing to forgive those who sin against us.

Into a Deep Sleep
Proverbs 19:15-17 ESV

“Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep,
and an idle person will suffer hunger.
Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
he who despises his ways will die.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.”

There are lazy people in this world who do as little as possible, but not everyone is lazy. Many people work hard for a living and are responsible to fulfill their commitments. But this isn’t just about being physically lazy, but this is also about being spiritually lazy, just gliding through life, doing whatever pleases the flesh without concern for doing what pleases God.

And this really describes the culture of today, at least here in America, to do what pleases our own flesh and/or to do what makes others feel good about themselves and to not “rock the boat” in any way that might upset people or make them feel bad about their sin or about us. And this is being passed off as “godliness” to be “good deed doers” and to not say anything which would make others feel bad about their own lives.

And so we are living in the age of the “Laodicean church” who is neither on fire for the Lord nor is she totally opposed to Jesus Christ, but she is lukewarm, carefree, unconcerned, apathetic, and indifferent about her own spiritual life and/or about the spiritual lives of others. So, she goes after what feels good, not necessarily after what is good.

And here’s the bottom line in it all: “Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life.” If we despise the commandments of the Lord (New Covenant), and we think we do not have to obey them, it will end in death for us, not life. But if we walk in obedience to our Lord, we have life in him, and we will be among those who inherit eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

A song to our Lord Jesus:

You’re still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You’re still the one I want for life
You’re still the one that I love
The only one I dream of…
Ain’t nothin’ better

(Taken from a secular song called “You’re Still the One” by Robert John Lange and Shania Twain)

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