Our next few Proverbs-based devotionals will be about living with integrity. We will cover the topics of honesty and justice first, then tie them together in talking about living a life of integrity – a life that is authentic, without pretense, trustworthy, righteous, and wise. Let’s start with honesty.
In the marketplace.
If we are dishonest in business, others are adversely affected; very often the employer suffers or the client doesn’t get what he pays for. As employees, we are not to do anything that detracts from our company’s profitability and success.
Then, as consumers, we are not to cheat merchants or be less than honest with them in any way. “God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard” (Proverbs 11:1 The Message).
In personal relationships.
“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Proverbs 24:26). It is loving to be honest. But sometimes another’s honesty toward us can sting – it doesn’t feel at all like a kiss! Even so, if we’re trying to hear the true message through the hurt, we will eventually see that our friend’s message was for our good:“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6).
What if you want to be honest with someone but are fearful that your honesty will be hurtful? The Bible gives us some wisdom when we find ourselves in this situation.
Build trust. Why was Nathan so bold in his confrontation of David’s sin? Partly because he and David had already developed a strong relationship. In fact, David trusted him so much that Nathan was the one he consulted when he wanted to know if he should proceed with building the temple (2 Samuel 7:1-17).
Be wise about time and place. Again, Proverbs is helpful, “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23). Timing and setting are important. We need to make sure that the person we want to address is ready to hear what we have to say. And, it appears from the biblical account that Nathan came to David in private to confront him. That wisdom of choosing the best place most likely helped to prepare David to be receptive to the message and to repent of his sin.
Be kind. Listen to Paul as he confronts the Christians in Galatia: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” (Galatians 4:19-20). Paul was kind, compassionate, and caring when he had to deliver tough messages. He wanted the best for them, and his words show that.
And Nathan “softened” David’s heart by telling him a story in which the ways of right and wrong were clear. When Nathan assigned a place for David in the story, it was not as the hero, it was as the villain, but that message was presented in love and with kindness. We have to find loving ways to bring bad news.
In speech and communication.
“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22). It’s easy to get caught up in saying things that are not 100% true. If we want to delight our God, we must be honest in what we say. We have addressed this in more detail in earlier posts, so will simply bring the concept in here again as a part of the overall picture of a life of integrity.
In defending the truth.
“The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace” (Proverbs 13:5). To be silent when lies are being told implies acceptance of the lies as true. One of our responsibilities as God’s people is to stand up for truth whenever and wherever God provides opportunity.
“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing, another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth” (Proverbs 13:7). There should be no pretending for us. We need to be open about who we really are. We, then, will be living with confidence, having nothing to hide.
If we live with transparency and honest, people will know they can trust us. “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing” (Proverbs 13:17). If we say we will do something, we must deliver. An honest person can be counted on.
In setting an standard.
“If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked” (Proverbs 29:12). As this verse implies, lies are infectious. Not only are we personally led from one lie to another when we begin to go down the road of falsehood, but if we create an atmosphere of dishonesty, others around us will be influenced by that atmosphere and will follow suit. Honesty begets honesty. Lies foster more lies.
In short, honesty is basic to a life of integrity. Let’s do it well.