To be honest, while I like hanging out in Proverbs, it becomes harder for me once we actually get to the proverbs. To engage in the first nine chapters of the book, the father’s arguments and impassioned appeals to his son to seek wisdom, is much easier for me than to take in the random bits of wisdom presented afterward. Working through, and meditating upon the concepts, ideas, and word pictures in the “introduction” is far more aligned to the way my brain functions than to try and read and process 20+ verses in a chapter which often declare 20+ different maxims.
So, this morning I decided to take one of the proverbs presented in my reading and see what all of Proverbs says about it. Rather than try and take in multiple words of advice, focus on one and, by God’s enabling and illuminating Spirit, take that away with me for the day.
Today’s word of wisdom is integrity.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
(Proverbs 10:9 ESV)
In the ESV, integrity is spoken of eight times in Proverbs–twice in the first nine chapters, six times in the actual proverbs (10:9, 11:3, 19:1, 20:7, 28:6, 28:18).
Of those six times, except for once, integrity is associated with how one walks. But even the other occurrence talks about integrity as a guide. So integrity is to be intricately linked to how we do life–and, I’m thinking, every aspect of life.
Almost invariably, integrity is contrasted with crookedness. So integrity is about being straight. Rather than walking in a way that is twisted, distorted, or marked by duplicity, integrity would seem to be living in a way that “what you see is what you get.” From motive to manner, from one situation to another, regardless of circumstance and consequence, the one who walks in integrity is going to be sincere, aboveboard, and lay it on the line–a straight line. Their walk is going to line up with their talk. And their talk will truthfully convey how they desire to walk.
And the proverbs layout the benefits of embracing integrity. Integrity results in safety and security, a sure foundation laid from a straight path embraced. It will be a sure guide, a reliable internal GPS, as situations are navigated, decisions are made, and stands taken.
What’s more, in the economy of heaven, integrity is a treasure unto itself. Better to be poor with integrity, says wisdom, than rich and wavering from popular opinion to popular opinion. For while riches have a way of ensnaring those who pursue them, integrity will deliver those who choose it as the way to navigate their life. No promise of avoiding tough or tempting situations, but an assurance of the Lord’s protection upon those who seek to walk blameless before Him.
And finally, wisdom says that integrity has a legacy. That the children of those who, by God’s grace and enabling, seek to walk on straight paths are blessed. These kids, having seen the right stuff modeled by their parents, learn to embrace the right stuff. That as they observe the consistency between how life is done in the secret of their homes and how it is played out in public, they too seek to walk straight.
Integrity. It is the way of wisdom. Vital for skillful living. Of great value in the kingdom of heaven.
To walk in integrity . . . Possible because of grace. To be embraced for His glory.