Integrity

November 7, 2012

Integrity

            Young people face many temptations and dangers.  In this article we are going to look at Joseph in the Bible and see how he reacted to temptations and dangers.  There are qualities of character that young people need.  They are called integrity.  Joseph is an excellent example of integrity.

The word “integrity” means soundness, adherence to a code of values or completeness.  No one is perfect and we can’t expect that of anyone.   We have a fallen nature with a tendency to do wrong.  Even David, the most famous of the Jewish kings, many times grieved over things he did wrong.  The Apostle Paul, in spite of the great work he did, said in Romans 7:23 “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  For that reason, when we speak of integrity in a human being, we have to understand that it’s with some limitations.

Integrity requires that we have moral discernment.  We have to have a mind capable of discerning between right and wrong.  We need to establish for ourselves some firm beliefs about what is right and wrong.  They are called convictions.  If we don’t have convictions it’s easy to give into two powerful influences that are always with us.  One is our old nature and the other is the influence of people around us.

The integrity of Joseph revealed itself in a powerful way when he was tempted by his master’s wife.  You can read about it in your Bible in Genesis 39:7-12.  He could have easily given into his sexual desires, but he had convictions against it.  Perhaps he realized that it could be a trap.  Before yielding to a temptation we need to ask ourselves what the consequences will be or could be.  Many times young people find themselves in an awkward situation because of foolish decisions they made.

The integrity of Joseph was revealed again when he refused to take revenge on his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  You can read about that in Genesis chapters 42-45.  He could have left his brothers to starvation.  If he had done that, it’s doubtful that anyone would have criticized him for it.

It is extremely important that we gain victory over our sin nature.  The fact that we have a desire to do something doesn’t give us the right to do it.  The Apostle Paul tells us about the struggle he had with the sin nature.  In Romans 7:19-23 he wrote “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.   Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.    I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.    For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:    But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  He said, “O wretched man that I am,” but he went on to tell us that there is victory.  We read that in verses 24-25 of Romans chapter 7.  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

There are some who know what is good and what is bad and they abide by it, but they do so because they are restrained by public opinion or for fear of what they would lose if they didn’t do right.  It doesn’t come from their heart.  They are vulnerable because, under the right circumstances, they might feel that it was to their advantage to do wrong.  Something is lacking.  Do you remember that one of the definitions of integrity is completeness?  Until it’s a settled conviction, you don’t have integrity in the matter.

To understand how integrity controls our behavior, let’s put it to the test.  Let’s suppose you are an auto mechanic.  That means that you make a living by selling your ability to fix cars.  It is an honorable job and the best way to make a good living by it is through integrity.  Let’s suppose that a customer brings his car to you and says, “The motor has lost power.  It isn’t running right.”  You put his car in your shop and find that a spark plug wire has come off.  What are you going to do?  If you have integrity you will put the wire back on and deliver the car to the customer without charging him anything.  If integrity is lacking, you might say to the customer “It appears as though it needs a tune up.”  The customer agrees to it and you end up charging him $99.95 for it.

There are a number of ways to be dishonest and take advantage of those around us.  God honors those who let integrity guide them in their relationship with others.  Proverbs 11:3 says “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”  If we wait on the Lord we can expect that integrity and uprightness will preserve us.  “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee” (Psalm 25:21).

Joseph, as a young man, found himself inEgypt.  He was a long way away from home and the people who knew him.  When some young people find themselves in that situation they change their life style.  Joseph was still the same stalwart young man that he was back at home.  If you have integrity, you will be honest and upright, no matter where you are.

 

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

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