Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD?
Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
or harm their neighbors
or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
and honor the faithful followers of the LORD,
and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever. —Psalm 15 NLT
I don’t know about you, but one thing that troubles me is the way we can twist truth to suit our current circumstances. Consider the politician who denounces his opponent but then immediately sings his virtues once the opponent is elected. Like him, we’re also very capable of speaking to suit our audience and our best interests with very little regard to truth. Whatever happened to integrity? Google Dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles … the state of being whole and undivided.”
I want to be “whole and undivided.” I want to be the same “me” wherever I am—but that can be harder than it sounds. Recently, I came across a psalm that nails it. Psalm 15 gives us a handle on this very important virtue and what it takes to live with integrity in an age of showmanship and deception.
Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right. Who can actually be with the Lord Almighty, David is asking. God is Holy and we are not. What does it take to be in His Holy, Perfect Presence? The answer, “those who lead blameless lives and do what is right.” That pretty much eliminates all of us. But, thanks be to God, we can be made blameless and right. Otherwise, no one would ever enter God’s Presence and this lesson in integrity would simply be an exercise in futility. You see, Jesus took our sins on Himself and declared us righteous and blameless when He paid the penalty for our sin. Knowing that we have been given a righteousness not our own, let’s learn from this psalm what it looks like to be “blameless.” How can we be known as a person who lives with integrity?
Speaking the truth from sincere hearts. First of all, it’s a heart thing. If we are to be “whole and undivided” then what we think and believe in our hearts will also be on our lips. Oh, Lord, help me to have a sincere heart that longs to follow You! May all my words be truthful.
Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. I’m intrigued by the word “refuse.” Oh, how easy it is to be caught up in gossip. Charles Swindoll defines gossip as “spreading around things you’ve heard or seen that really aren’t anyone else’s business.” Ouch. Gossip may not be a falsehood, but just telling someone else’s truth—a truth they may not want the world to know. Oh, let’s refuse to cause harm to a neighbor or speak evil of a friend. I try to imagine that the person I’m talking about is actually listening to me speak about them. That’s a great way to carefully guard my words. People of integrity refuse to betray secrets or tell stories that place someone else in a bad light. Father, You know the times I have failed and failed again in this area of gossip and hurt. Help me, please, to think before I speak, to desire that those I know are never denigrated by any word that comes from my mouth.
Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. We cannot be applauding the bad guys. Even if they entertain us or promise us good stuff. If someone is actively living a life that is cruel, arrogant, or unfair, our response cannot be flattery, can it? Sometimes the most popular people are least worthy of the praise they receive. The quiet, faithful followers of the Lord Jesus, who receive no attention at all, are the ones we should honor. I don’t want to jump on the adulation bandwagon of a politician, a singer, an actor, or anyone else who is not walking in the humility God loves and desires. A person of integrity celebrates good behavior, not bad. And, check out the last part of the verse: “keep their promises even when it hurts.” A person of integrity keeps their promises. Their word means something. If they say it, they’ll do it, even if it has become inconvenient. Oh, Lord, help me to honor those who honor You! Keep me from foolish praise of those who need my prayers far more than my adulation. And, Father, even when it hurts, help me to keep my word. I want to live in such a way that people trust me—and when they see I follow You, lead them to trust You most of all.
Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Someone with integrity does not seek to make money off the suffering of another. If they lend to one in need, they do so to help, not to profit themselves. And they cannot be bribed. Money doesn’t tempt them to wrong. They live that whole and undivided life guided by beliefs and standards, not finances. No lies. No matter what the monetary gain. They live rightly. Father, keep me from ever making money an idol. How easy it is to slip into covetousness and a yearning to be even more comfortable than I already am. Lord, keep me focused on what matters in light of eternity—and that surely isn’t the amount of stuff I have or the amount of money I’ve hoarded. I don’t want money to have any hold on my life at all. Please reveal to me the places where it does.
Do you know what happens when you choose to live with integrity? You don’t live in dread of being “found out.” You don’t have a troubled conscience. Your insides match your outsides, and people can trust you. The peace gained from a life of integrity is of incalculable value. Guess what God says about people who live like that? Such people will stand firm forever.
Dear Lord, thank You that my salvation does not depend on my ability to live a blameless life. Oh, how I would fail that test! But thank You for these words that illuminate for me what is right and good in Your sight. Help me, Lord, to live with integrity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
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