Integrity is such a rare thing these days that people have learned to trust no-one. There are so many people who would lie without blinking, while looking into your eyes. There are so many unscrupulous people that the honest ones are just thrown into the mix and everyone is deemed with suspicion. Because we have a business we are often asked for credit and we have lost money as a result. But then you get the occasional individual who is so honest that he will go out of his way to repay R5 he was short when he purchased something.  What does the bible say about integrity?

Proverbs 11:3, The integrity of the upright will guide them,

But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.

Proverbs 28:6, Better is the poor who walks in his integrity

Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

1 Peter 3:16, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Proverbs 12:22, Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,

But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

Provebs 21:3, To do righteousness and justice

Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 8:21, providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

These passages make it abundantly clear that God expects us to have integrity, to speak the truth and to be consistently honourable. We can’t be honest in some of our dealings and not in others. We cannot compromise of standards of ethical behaviour, especially in business dealings. If you are a Christian in business you know that people scrutinize you and watch for you to make a mistake. So what must we do? How must we handle things?

Proverbs 4:25-27, Let your eyes look straight ahead,

And your eyelids look right before you.

Ponder the path of your feet,

And let all your ways be established.

Do not turn to the right or the left;

Remove your foot from evil.

Hebrew 13:18, Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honourably.

We have to carry each other in prayer and also keep our friends accountable.

Luke 6:31, And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

This verse says it all. Nobody wants to be treated badly, therefore we must treat people well. We must be honest in our dealings with each and every person. We cannot afford to not be honest. It doesn’t matter how tempting a situation is, we have to remember that the devil is waiting for us to step into his traps.

1 Peter 5:8-11, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We are in the privileged position to be able to use the grace that God gives us to resist temptation and stay on the narrow path. We also have a good Father who forgives us when we stumble. We are just so absolutely, awesomely and abundantly privileged to be able to call ourselves children of God.

My comfortable cat

I have a cat. I really love her and take good care of her. I’ve had her ever since she was a kitten. Her name is Camille and she believes that the whole world, including myself, exists to please her. When she wakes from a nap and I’m around she will meow to attract my attention and then go to her food bowl where she has also come into the habit of being brushed. If I walk in the front door she demands attention. She will even scratch at my bed in the middle of the night because she wants to be brushed. Needless to say she loves being brushed. I don’t always pay attention to her but she never tires of believing that I have been created to pander to her needs. She lies around sleeping all day and then decided when and how she wants attention.

We do that with God too a lot of the time. It works something like this:

Me: Hey God, I want to ask you something. I really need you to fix the problem that I’m having at work with my boss, and while you’re about it can’t you please tell him that I need a raise because I can’t live comfortably on the salary I get.

God: That’s interesting. What does my Word say about relationships with your employer?

Me: Uuuuum…I don’t know.

God: Okay, so what does my Word say about your finances?

Me: Well, I think there’s something I heard once about giving to the church.

God: Good. So do you?

Me: I’m still looking for a church that suits me. You know the last one I was in was just full of hypocrites and the children always made a noise during the services.

God: Oh I see, hypocrites you say. Interesting. So when last did you read my Word.

Me: You see, it’s really hard to make time because of this terrible job I have. And the Bible is a bit boring sometimes if you don’t mind me saying so. I really struggle to get into it.

God: You have time to watch TV though.

Me: Yes, but that’s important. I need to be up to date with the news and with a lot of other things so that I can talk to my friends. We need to have things in common you know.

God: I seem to recall there’s something in my Word about going out into the world and telling the world about my Son.

We are just like Camille. We sit around wasting time and when we have a crisis we call on God. We think that God is there solely to look out for our interests. We do everything that the world does but when we need help we expect God to jump up and serve us and help us out of the trouble we put ourselves in. I’m not saying that God isn’t going to help us but I do think the least we can do is bring our side too. We aren’t the centre of the universe and God doesn’t exist to please us.

1 John 2:15 – 17, Don’t set the affections of your heart on this world or in loving the things of the world. The love of the Father and the love of the world are incompatible. For all that the world can offer us—the gratification of our flesh, the allurement of the things of the world, and the obsession with status and importance—none of these things come from the Father but from the world. This world and its desires are in the process of passing away, but those who love to do the will of God live forever.

We are here because God chose to create us. We did not make ourselves, we do not have any power in ourselves that means anything. We need God, God doesn’t need us. We mustn’t be like a cat who is just in her own comfort zone and believes that the rest of the world is there to serve her. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us so that we won’t go to hell. We are less than nothing without God. We have to look ask ourselves and ask God what it is we can do to bring honour to His name. Then we are starting to get on the right road.

Love and respect

This coming Friday is a public holiday in South Africa. Women’s Day. I was speaking about it to a friend when a man asked, “So when is men’s day?” and we both simultaneously said, “every day!” it was really meant as a joke and the gentleman took it very well. I must say that I’m not really clued up with the origin of these kinds of holidays, but I do think that it’s really nice that women should be honoured. Honour, these days is something that is sorely lacking in society. The way some children speak to their parents is shocking, but then I believe that they speak that way because they are being allowed to do so. When I worked with pre-schoolers it was clear to see which children were disciplined at home and which weren’t. By discipline I don’t mean that they were beaten or threatened. Children need to be spoken to so that they can understand why they are expected to behave in a certain way, and they also need to see that behaviour demonstrated.  A child does what you do, not what you say he must do. If a father and mother don’t treat each other with respect the children aren’t going to treat people with respect. Teachers find it very difficult to teach children who haven’t learned the skill of listening.

It is so easy for a married couple to fall into disrespect for each other. It’s more of a habit than conscious behaviour. I so often hear women complain to each other about their husbands. It is really easy to agree with other women when they say something less than honouring about their husbands. It is a very bad habit. We have to consciously work on our marriages. My husband and I have been married for 31 years and I can assure you that love and respect don’t just happen. After the initial ‘in love’ and infatuation stage is over you have a choice to make. You can choose to be disobedient to the Word of God, or we can obey and receive the blessings we are promised.

Ephesians 5: 25-29,33, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This is such good advice but often we choose to take out parts of Scripture that don’t suit us and just think about and apply the parts that suit us. Husbands have to love their wives and wives have to love their husbands. It sounds really simple if we say it fast. It isn’t always easy though. We do things to hurt each other because we are so close to each other. We don’t always do things purposefully, but whether our behaviour is premeditated or not, it can be extremely hurtful and if we don’t show the necessary grace we will be hurt.

Colossians 4:6 says our speech should be seasoned with salt. Yes, we should become very aware of what we say and how we say it. Especially to those who are near and dear to us. How often do we see messages or videos on social media that tell us to be nice to people because they might be dead by tomorrow. I think that’s the worst motivation ever. We shouldn’t be guilt tripped into loving people or being kind to them. We should think about how wonderful it is to have good relationships with people, and it is possible if everyone tries. We should also really want to be a good example to the younger generation.

1 Peter 3:1,  Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

This shows the kind of conduct that is expected from a woman. It does not mean that a woman has to be a doormat and that her husband has the right to abuse her. Not at all. But if she is married to a reasonable person, he can be so influenced by her behaviour that he will give his life to Jesus.

We have to strive to treat all people with dignity and respect, especially those closest to us. We will definitely reap the rewards.