June 13 – Integrity

Mark 1:1-20; 2 Samuel 2; 2 Samuel 3:1; Daniel 1
Integrity seems to be a vanishing character trait. All you need to do is look at the news and you can find reports of corruption everywhere. We can read or hear about public officials who have gotten wealthy while they served in office. We see stories of people who are high and mighty in the business world who cut corners – engaging in unethical practices – to gain power or wealth. Some cultures around the world seem to thrive on bribery; you can’t get anywhere or do anything without paying a bribe. It’s easy to be cynical, sometimes, and try to figure out what the angle the other person has whenever they try to do something.
If you’re like me, when certain people are seen doing what seem to be charitable works, your first thought is “what’s in it for them?” After the Babylonians conquered Israel and carried many of the people away, the king wanted to train some of the bright young men for service in His court. Many Israelites were brought into the kings service and the king ordered the finest food and wine for these young men. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah go their new names – although no one remembers Daniel’s – but when the meal was brought out, Daniel and his 3 friends showed some integrity. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” (Daniel 1:8)
Daniel knew that the king’s food wasn’t kosher. We don’t know how many others were part of this group that the king had brought together, but the impression is that only Daniel and his friends maintained the integrity of their faith to ask for foods that they could eat in good conscience. They also had the integrity to ask the guy in charge for a different menu. And here’s where the integrity issue gets interesting: the official is sympathetic to them, but he’s concerned that they wouldn’t look as good as the others, because what could be better than the king’s food after all, and he knew that when word got out that he didn’t give them the “good stuff” he would be in trouble. He could have easily given them the vegetables and water and pocketed the money saved. Instead, he gave them a trial to make sure they’d be ok. They were, and the rest was, as they say, history.
It’s easy to cut corners these days. It’s even easier to justify cutting corners. “Everyone else is doing it.” “I have to stay competitive.” I’m sure you could come up with a lot of good excuses to do that. How many times have we compromised our values because, well, no one would ever know? The most important tests of our faith often come when no one we know is looking. Temptation is a strong force that seeks to welcome us with false promises. Integrity is when we stay true to our faith, our beliefs, not only when no one is looking, but when it seems advantageous to compromise them. You will face many situations today where you’ll have opportunities to cut corners or compromise your faith. It may even seem “good for business” to do so. I urge you to think of your relationship with God, and then decide which is most important. You will never regret doing those things that help you maintain integrity in your relationship with Him.
Dear Lord, I will face temptations today. While it’s still easy to, I commit to following You in all things. Help me to remember this commitment when the temptations become overwhelming. 

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About rockyfort

I am a retired Middle School Teacher. I share each day what God is teaching me from reading His word hoping that people can benefit from reading what God has taught me.
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