Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Proverbs 11:3-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
The righteousness of the blameless keeps their ways straight,
but the wicked fall by their own wickedness.
The righteousness of the upright saves them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their schemes.
When the wicked die, their hope perishes,
and the expectation of the godless comes to nothing.
The righteous are delivered from trouble,
and the wicked get into it instead.
With their mouths the godless would destroy their neighbors,
but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;
and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
Whoever belittles another lacks sense,
but an intelligent person remains silent.
A gossip goes about telling secrets,
but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence.
I have worked with youth for many years. The past three years my work has been from a professional standpoint rather than as a youth group leader, but some of the content remains the same. At some point, the topic of “integrity” comes up. This discussion takes place in the exploration of values and character qualities. Simply, integrity is doing what is right even when no one is looking. It’s about thinking through and making decisions based on how the choice benefits self and others. We can explore it, talk about it, role-play it, and the kids can recite the definition back to me. We talk about it with ease, but it’s more difficult to walk with integrity. For so many, the hardest part about these lessons on integrity is that outside the counseling room they don’t have the reinforcement for what they learn in the session.
Today’s scripture paints a good picture of what it looks like to walk with integrity. It describes the consequences of walking both with and without it. Another definition I found on integrity was “the state of being whole and undivided”. Without Jesus, we are not whole. Our sin keeps us divided from God and from the salvation offered through the blood of Jesus. Jesus was the perfect model of integrity, having not sinned even in the face of persecution and being hung on the cross. It is by His stripes that we are healed and through his death, we are saved and made righteous. We cannot walk in righteousness and wholeness without accepting the full sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, I thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, who walked with integrity and love on this earth. He even walked among the wickedness of this earth and maintained his integrity. Help us, Lord, to model integrity for young people that we come in contact with every day through our words, and most especially through our actions.
Go with God!