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Most people understand that human beings have both an "inner" and an "outer" life. We often describe what kind of individual a person is on the "inside," as well as what his traits might be on the "outside." One of the real challenges in life is to maintain wholeness and harmony between our inner and outer persons, so that we really are on the inside what we appear to be on the outside. This unity between our thinking and our actions is the basic idea behind the word "integrity" (which literally means "oneness"). Integrity means that there is a unity to our character: we live in our daily lives the principles we say we adhere to in our hearts. One popular way of describing integrity is to say that we "practice what we preach" (or we "walk our talk"). It just means that we are genuine -- and we are consistent in doing what's right, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in.
In the Book of Job, Satan was allowed to tempt Job to compromise his integrity. He brought terrible hardship upon Job in an effort to break the consistency between Job's faith and his practice. But Job passed the test. He kept his deeds and his words consistent with his principles. And even God commended this consistency. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason'" (Job 2:3).
In our own lives today, there must be harmony between our principles and our practice. This week, let's work on that idea. Let's determine that we will practice our principles. Let's honor God by following through on our commitment to obey His will, outwardly as well as in our hearts. The world "healthy" is closely related in its origin to the word "whole." To be healthy means, basically, that our bodies enjoy a "wholeness" in which all is at peace and nothing is battling against anything else. Spiritually, that's what health is too. It's the condition of having our "whole" person "together" -- inside and outside. This integrity between what we think and what we do is one of the highest goals of spiritual maturity. It's a worthy project to which we can dedicate ourselves.
Monday: Matthew 23:1-4
Key Idea: God is displeased when we do not practice what we preach.
Questions for Family Growth: What advice did Jesus give His hearers in regard to the scribes and Pharisees? How did He describe their problem? What is the basic idea behind the word "integrity"? How did the Pharisees fall short in the matter of integrity?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:1.
Tuesday: 1 John 3:18
Key Idea: We ought to love in deed as well as word.
Questions for Family Growth: How do we show that we truly love God: in our words, our deeds, or both? What situation is described in Ezek. 33:30-33? How can we avoid the problem Jesus was dealing with in Mt. 15:7-9?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:2,3.
Wednesday: James 2:14-26
Key Idea: Faith without works is dead.
Questions for Family Growth: In practical terms, what does "faith" really mean? What are some ways our faith can be inconsistent with our practice? How can we grow in our integrity so that there is consistency between our faith and our works?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:4.
Thursday: 2 Chronicles 25:1,2
Key Idea: God desires that we follow Him wholeheartedly.
Questions for Family Growth: Who is the king described in these verses? What good thing is said about him? What is said about his heart in the last part of v.2, and what is meant by this statement? How can we avoid the problem this king had?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:5,6.
Friday: James 4:4
Key Idea: In order to possess integrity, we must choose to honor God rather than the world.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the "adultery" spoken of in this passage? How can we tell whether our "friendship" is with God or with the world? What are the consequences of each choice? What did Paul say in Rom. 6:16?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 13:7.