Posts Tagged ‘personal integrity’


RUTH

WHEN someone says, “Let me tell you about my mother-in-law,” we expect some kind of negative statement or funny anecdote. That’s because the mother-in-law caricature has often been used in humor and comedy. The book of Ruth, however, tells a different story. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, Naomi. Recently widowed, Ruth begged to stay with Naomi wherever she went, even though it would mean leaving her homeland. She ended her plea with, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (1:16). Naomi agreed, and Ruth traveled with her to Bethlehem.     Not much is said about Naomi except that she loved and cared for Ruth. Obviously, Naomi’s life was a

powerful witness to the reality of God. Ruth was drawn to her—and to the God she worshiped. In the succeeding months, God led this young Moabite widow to a man named Boaz, whom she eventually married. As a result, she became the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor in the line of the Messiah. What a profound impact Naomi’s life made!     The book of Ruth is also the story of God’s grace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Ruth’s story occurred during the time of the judges—a period of disobedience, idolatry, and violence. Even in times of crisis and deepest despair, there are those who follow God and through whom God works. No matter how discouraging or antagonistic the world may seem, there are always people who follow God. He will use anyone who is open to him to achieve his purposes. Ruth was a Moabite, and Boaz was a descendant of Rahab, a former prostitute from Jericho. Nevertheless, their offspring continued the family line through which the Messiah came into our world.     Read this book and be encouraged. God is at work in the world, and he wants to use you. God could use you, as he used Naomi, to bring family and friends to him.
KEY VERSE: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God’” (1:16).
KEY PLACES: Moab, Bethlehem
When we first meet Ruth, she is a destitute widow. We follow her as she joins God’s people, gleans in the grain fields, and risks her honor at the threshing floor of Boaz. In the end, we see Ruth becoming the wife of Boaz. What a picture of how we come to faith in Christ. We begin with no hope and are rebellious foreigners with no part in the kingdom of God. Then as we risk everything by putting our faith in Christ, God saves us, forgives us, rebuilds our lives, and gives us blessings that will last through eternity. Boaz’s redeeming of Ruth is a picture of Christ redeeming us.

EXPLANATION: Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi as a daughter-in-law and friend is a great example of love and loyalty. Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz are also faithful to God and his laws. Throughout the story we see God’s faithfulness to his people.

IMPORTANCE: Ruth’s life was guided by faithfulness toward God and showed itself in loyalty toward the people she knew. To be loyal and loving in relationships, we must imitate God’s faithfulness in our relationships with others.

Kindness

EXPLANATION: Ruth showed great kindness to Naomi. In turn, Boaz showed kindness to Ruth—a despised Moabite woman with no money. God showed his kindness to Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz by bringing them together for his purposes.

IMPORTANCE: Just as Boaz showed his kindness by buying back land to guarantee Ruth and Naomi’s inheritance, so Christ showed his kindness by dying for us to guarantee our eternal life. God’s kindness should motivate us to love and honor him.

Integrity

EXPLANATION: Ruth showed high moral character by being loyal to Naomi, by her clean break from her former land and customs, and by her hard work in the fields

IMPORTANCE: When we have experienced God’s faithfulness and kindness, we should respond by showing integrity. Just as the values by which Ruth and Boaz lived were in sharp contrast to those of the culture portrayed in the book of Judges, so our lives should stand out from the world around us.

Protection

EXPLANATION: We see God’s care and protection over the lives of Naomi and Ruth. His supreme control over circumstances brings them safety and security. He guides the minds and activities of people to fulfill his purposes.

IMPORTANCE: No matter how devastating our present situation may be, our hope is in God. His resources are infinite. We must believe that he can work in the life of any person—whether that person is a king or a stranger in a foreign land. Trust his protection.

Prosperity/Blessing

EXPLANATION: Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem as poor widows, but they soon became prosperous through Ruth’s marriage to Boaz. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David. Yet the greatest blessing was not the money, the marriage, or the child; it was the quality of love and respect between Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi.

IMPORTANCE: We tend to think of blessings in terms of prosperity rather than the high-quality relationships God makes possible for us. No matter what our economic situation, we can love and respect the people God has brought into our lives. In so doing, we give and receive blessings. Love is the greatest blessing.
 


Under Gods Command 

Proverbs 11:1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight. 

God is fair and right, and He expects you to be fair and right. He is perfect, and He expects you to be perfect. He hates cheating or compromise in your dealings; He loves honesty and integrity. He will ruin you professionally, if you cheat; but He will bless you, if you are just and fair. Solomon taught this lesson more than once (Pr 16:11; 20:10,23).

Before standardized weights and measures, and a government department to enforce them, merchants were responsible for accurate scales and weights. You bought and sold most of your commodities and foodstuffs by weight. This was no small matter, as the integrity and prosperity of the nation’s economy depended on trustworthy transactions.

Business integrity is part of godliness. Jehovah counts economic cheating or compromise to be an abomination. This word means a combination of disgust and hatred; abhorrence, detestation, loathing. In the Bible it also describes God’s attitude toward child sacrifice (Deut 12:31; 18:10-12), sodomy (Lev 18:22; 20:13), and similar perverse sins.

If you want to get ahead, then be scrupulously careful in all your transactions, even making sure your motives are just and pure (Pr 11:3; 19:1; Pr 20:7,14), and looking out with special care for widows, orphans, and the poor (Pr 23:10-11; 22:9). It is far better to be generous and liberal than to be cheap and stingy (Pr 11:24-27; Eccl 11:1-6; Is 32:8).

The omniscient God, seeing and knowing all things, takes very close interest in the ounces and pounds, liters and pints, dollars and cents, of your daily life. Let every greedy and stingy thief beware! He does not watch from a distance. He closely watches you tip a waitress or sell a used car. He watches you at the time clock and filing expense reports.

You will never get ahead cheating. And only blind fools would think it for even a second. It is far better to pay and perform beyond expectations, than to cut corners or shortchange anyone. Generosity is far superior to frugality. It is a very small mind, motivated by a dead soul, which thinks stinginess is how to get ahead (Pr 11:24-26; 28:8). A large mind, directed by a loving and generous heart, is God’s delight. He will bless the righteous.

Godly men are perfectly honest. They never take advantage of others. They go beyond bare duty; they pay more than their share; they keep every term of a contract; they tip generously; they pay debts on time; they despise purloining, or small thefts; they never lay out sick, when they are well; they disclose all problems with things they sell; they do not barter down a price, then call it a great deal; they communicate promptly and openly.

The Lord avenges any defrauding (I Thes 4:6; I Cor 6:8). He measures every relationship and transaction with His holy and divine scales of perfect righteousness. Have you been found wanting? Your prayers will stop at the ceiling (Pr 15:29; Ps 66:18); He will blow against you (Pr 13:15; Ps 34:16); you will never get ahead (Pr 13:11; 20:21; Jer 17:11). If you are froward in business dealings with others, He will be froward to you (Ps 18:26).

The Lord delights in honest men (Pr 12:22; Ps 11:7; Luke 6:37-38). What a glorious blessing to have the Most High delighting in you for your daily integrity! Watch every trade! Please every man! Owe no man anything! Be void of offence before God and men! Let the pure honesty and generosity of the Lord Jesus Christ be seen in your every action.


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 13:17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing. 

Faithfulness and integrity are great character traits. You should have them yourself, and you should only associate with those who have them. When others trust you or depend on you, it is your duty and privilege to fulfill their desires and needs as perfectly as possible. This is noble performance that brings God’s approval and blessing and man’s as well.

Faithfulness and integrity are shown here by a messenger or ambassador. Wicked men get in trouble – they are easily waylaid by foolish distractions or pressure to compromise – they are not trustworthy or reliable. A faithful man brings prosperity to those trusting him, for he finishes the job as desired and expected. How often do you get waylaid?

It is a foolish sin to betray the confidence and trust of those who give you an assignment. The prosperous functioning of any society depends on men discharging their duties with diligence and honesty. Wicked men get diverted and fail their commitments. But faithful men make sure they complete the job, and they are a precious benefit to all concerned.

If you send a sluggard to do a job, his laziness will irritate you. Solomon wrote, “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him” (Pr 10:26). If you send a fool, you beg for damage. Solomon also wrote, “He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage” (Pr 26:6).

Faithful men bring prosperity to deals. They are health to the transaction, rather than the mischief of wicked messengers. Confidence in knowing a man will finish a job right is a blessing. Solomon wrote, “As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters” (Pr 25:13).

Before email, telephones, and mail, messages were sent from individuals and nations by couriers and ambassadors. Wicked men did not take it seriously, and they would not deliver the message accurately or on time. They would fall into mischief on the way, distracted or diverted by temptations. Faithful ambassadors could be counted on to get the message conveyed accurately and on time. Private and national prosperity were served.

God’s saints should have impeccable reputations before the world, as did Joseph and Daniel (Gen 41:38-40; Dan 6:1-5; I Tim 6:1; Titus 2:9-10). When given an assignment, they should seek to exceed every expectation in keeping it (Pr 22:29; Rom 12:11; Ep 6:5-9). Does everyone know you are always faithful in any assignment or duty? Anything less than total trust in you is not good enough. Start today to be faithful with integrity.

Do you think about those trusting you? Do you fall into mischief, or do you bring them health? Your professional duties are important, but do not forget your parents and others depending on you. Carefully consider your spouse, children, neighbors, church members, etc. Regardless of whether they detailed their trust or not, do you faithfully serve them?

Since God chose communication by a messenger or ambassador for this proverb, consider the importance of correct communication. Do you confuse facts, embellish events, or exaggerate situations. Do you communicate as promptly and thoroughly as you should? Or do others have to chase you down to get what they needed? Do you take the time to be detailed and orderly in communication so there is no misunderstanding?

God chose preaching to send truth to men. Most preachers are wicked messengers, who fall into mischief and do not teach His Word accurately. There were many, even in Paul’s day, which corrupted the Word of God (II Cor 2:17; 11:3-4,13-15; Phil 3:18-19; I Jn 4:1). And this evil trend was going to get worse in the last days (I Tim 4:1-3; II Tim 3:6-7; 4:3-4; II Pet 2:1-2). Timothy was rare, having Paul’s concern for the churches (Phil 2:19-21).

Ministers must be ordained cautiously (I Tim 3:1-13; 5:22). They must be faithful men (I Cor 4:1-2; II Tim 2:2; Titus 1:6-11), who will not be distracted with this world (II Tim 2:4). They must give themselves wholly to their work (I Tim 4:13-16). They must handle the Scriptures honestly (II Cor 4:2) and with much study (II Tim 2:15). When churches have faithful ambassadors, they will have spiritual health (Neh 8:1-12; I Tim 4:15-16).

You must find a minister faithful to his calling by Jesus Christ (I Tim 3:1-7; 4:13-16; II Tim 2:1-7; I Pet 5:1-4; etc., etc.). Elihu, the only man understanding Job’s situation, said of such rare men, “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” (Job 33:23-24). Amen!

Paul was the greatest gospel messenger and ambassador, for nothing moved him from his ordained calling as the apostle to the Gentiles, and he was more diligent than his peers (Acts 20:24; I Cor 15:10). He could say at the end of his life, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim 4:7). Are you thankful for the health he brought? If you are a Gentile believer, you should be thankful (Rom 15:15-21).

The most faithful messenger and ambassador is the Lord Jesus Christ. He told God His Father in heaven before dying, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). What if He had fallen into mischief in the desert or Gethsemane (Matt 4:1-11; 26:36-46)? But He brought eternal health to His elect children by complete faithfulness, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:5-11; Heb 3:1-6).


Under Gods Command

Proverbs 19:01 – Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. 

A blameless life is far more valuable than wealth, but most people don’t act as if they believe this.  Afraid of not getting everything they want, they will pay any price to increase their wealth-cheating on their taxes, stealing from stores or employers, withholding tithes, refusing to give.  But when we know and love God, we realize that a lower standard of living-or even poverty- is a small price to pay for personal integrity

Personal integrity is better than riches. The man who walks uprightly, though he is poor, is more of a success in the eyes of God and good men than a perverse fool, though he is rich. The wisdom of God and Solomon promotes holy living far over financial success.

There is an ellipsis here – words left out by design to shorten the sentence and make it more powerful. You know there is an ellipsis by the incomplete antithesis, for there is no contrasting term for poor, and the good Lord gave you the full version in Pr 28:6. It is not just a poor honest man compared to a perverse fool, but rather to a rich perverse fool.

Here is one of Solomon’s many priorities – teaching wisdom by comparison. Young men should strive for righteous lives more than advancement in their profession or financial success. Honest dealings are more important than economic progress. You should choose holy living over any professional ambitions. Consider the comments on Pr 13:7.

There are some related comparisons found in the book of Proverbs. Little money with the fear of the Lord is better than riches with trouble (Pr 15:16); a little money with righteousness is better than great revenues without right (Pr 16:8); a poor honest man is better than a rich liar (Pr 19:22). These comparisons should set the priorities in your life.

Young man, ignore television advertisements, a fast track boss, or a wealthy neighbor. Making money and getting ahead are less important than walking uprightly in all you do. The man who does not fear the Lord and says profane things with his mouth is a loser, regardless of how much money he makes or the size of his house. He is going down.

You will face choices, maybe today, where you must choose between integrity before God and “getting ahead.” Will you falsify a quote or estimate to make a big sale? Will you be silent when your competitor is falsely accused? Will you pass a promotion that would require you to work for a dishonest boss? Will you tell the whole truth in the application for a job you really want? Will you falsify financial statements to a bank?

You have been warned. If you put professional or financial success ahead of holy living, you lose, both now and later! The Lord sees your heart and every action, and He will treat you strictly now and at His judgment seat. But He can also give joy now that no money can buy (Ps 4:7), and He will give eternal life to those who live righteously (Matt 7:21).

Your goals should be gracious and honest speech, impeccable business dealings, being a loving spouse, training your children well, and doing good to all men. You must avoid hypocrisy, evil thoughts, and even the appearance of evil. And you should do all this with God first in your motives and goals. Such a man is better than compromising rich men.

A wise man will consider that God measures His moral performance, rather than worry about this foolish world that measures men by financial gain. The priority in ambition and goals of this proverb is from God Jehovah and written agreeably by Solomon. Believe it! Choosing these priorities when young can make you great before God.

Nabal was a very great man with much riches and a beautiful wife, but he was a fool and a son of Belial (I Sam 25:2-3,17,25). David was the most wanted man in Israel and running for his life, living in the woods and fields with the sheep. Which man would you want to be? Which man was better? What happened to these men? Give God the glory!

God turned Nabal into stone for ten days of cold fear, killed him, and gave his wife to David. God protected David, put him on the throne, and made him very great in the end. One sold his soul to the devil, and the other walked with God. One likely went straight to hell at death, and the other died the death of the righteous. The difference in time and eternity between these two men is immeasurable. Consider it! What are your priorities?

Young man, the way of the wicked seduces many (Pr 12:26). The lifestyles of the rich and famous are hard to ignore. It is the prosperity of fools (Pr 1:32); you should reject it, for it does not tell their horrible future (Ps 73:16-20). What did Solomon say, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” (Pr 11:28).

If you give up the things of this evil world for Jesus Christ, He promises to reward you with a hundredfold now and with eternal life in the world to come (Mark 10:29-31). Though this sounds hard to believe, it is true. How can you lose with such an incredible and certain offer from the King of kings? Earn it today by choosing godliness over riches.  Do your actions show that you sacrifice your integrity to increase your wealth?  What changes do you need to make in order to get your priorities straight?