Maintaining Personal Integrity
“Judge me, O Jehovah, for I myself have walked in my own integrity, and in Jehovah I have trusted, that I may not wobble. Examine me, O Jehovah, and put me to the test; refine my kidneys and my heart. For your loving-kindness is in front of my eyes, and I have walked in your truth.”—Ps. 26:1-3.
1, 2. What identifies a person of integrity, and what are some of the benefits for keeping integrity?
ARE you wholeheartedly devoted to Jehovah God, the Creator? Do you love him with all your mind and heart? Do you follow good moral principles in your relationship with all men? Do you keep yourself free from the corrupt influence of this wicked world? If you can answer in the affirmative, it means you are one of the few persons on earth who have fulfilled the requirements for a person of integrity, for integrity means blamelessness, soundness in moral principles, uprightness, honesty, state of being whole, entire.
2 Just because few people have integrity it does not mean that it is not worth the effort that one must put forth to have it and maintain it. It is true that being a person of integrity is not easy, because we are born imperfect, inclined toward sin. But the beneficial results of happiness now and the prospects of everlasting life make maintaining personal integrity worth all the effort that we put forth.—Ps. 51:5.
3. How did David view the matter of keeping integrity?
3 King David, a servant of God, knew what integrity meant and he realized the importance of being a man of integrity. He was willing to appear before God’s judgment throne and be examined as to his pure, honest intentions and his faithful efforts to worship God alone as Creator. David said: “Judge me, O Jehovah, for I myself have walked in my own integrity, and in Jehovah I have trusted, that I may not wobble. Examine me, O Jehovah, and put me to the test; refine my kidneys [or my deep emotions] and my heart. For your loving-kindness is in front of my eyes, and I have walked in your truth.”—Ps. 26:1-3.
WHY PERSONAL INTEGRITY IS ESSENTIAL
4. What reason did David have for displaying integrity?
4 There was more than one reason why King David thought it was important to walk in God’s ways. It was not just because his own life was involved that he was so interested in keeping integrity, nor just for the good example that he would set for the Israelite nation over whom he was king. Nor was it only because he wanted to obtain a good report from the heathen nations around him. The primary reason was that the name of the God whom he loved and served was involved. David said: “O magnify Jehovah with me, you people, and let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34:3) Regardless of what other men thought, regardless of the opposition of his enemies, David was determined to serve Jehovah wholeheartedly. Prayerfully he said: “As for me, in my integrity I shall walk. . . . Among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.”—Ps. 26:11, 12.
5. Why do we owe Jehovah our wholehearted devotion?
5 Do we not owe our pure worship to Jehovah, who is our Creator and who promises to be our everlasting Preserver in his new world of righteousness that is so near at hand? We answer yes, because not only has God given us the life that we have at present, but he has given us the promise of life in the future. The apostle Paul had faith in this promise as a reward for serving Jehovah, because, when he wrote to Timothy, he said: “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.”—2 Tim. 4:7, 8; Rom. 6:23.
6, 7. (a) Does organizational integrity guarantee personal integrity? (b) How is this demonstrated in the case of Achan?
6 To maintain personal integrity one must appreciate that Jehovah will judge the person or the individual. It is true that today Jehovah deals with us through his visible organization. He teaches us through that organization. He corrects and chastises us through that organization. The good news of the Kingdom is being preached throughout the world by means of that organization. But, while he promises that the integrity of the organization will be preserved and maintained, this does not guarantee that just because we are associated with that organization we will maintain personal integrity.—Matt. 24:45-47.
7 Achan was a part of a whole nation that was faithful to God and was then keeping national integrity. But his being born into the nation of God’s people, and his being associated with the nation that had just conquered the city of Jericho and was moving into the land of Canaan to possess it by means of God’s spirit, did not guarantee for him that God would overlook his sin of covetous disobedience and bless him in that promised land of milk and honey. Achan had failed to keep personal integrity by stealing and then lying about it, and he suffered the penalty of being tracked down, exposed, humiliated and finally permanently disfellowshiped in being stoned to death.—Josh. 7:1-26.
8. What will assure our escaping destruction, and whose example did Paul say we should follow?
8 In view of the many Bible prophecies, for a certainty we are near the end of this system of things, and if we desire to be saved from its destruction and to be shown God’s favor by being protected through his battle of Armageddon and kept alive into the new world, we, too, must walk blamelessly as did David and Paul. Like these integrity-keepers, we are interested in magnifying Jehovah’s name by our conduct and example to the world before our fellow Christians, just as the Thessalonians were good examples to the believers in Macedonia. Paul wrote concerning them: “You came to be an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”—1 Thess. 1:7; Matt. 24:1-15;1 Tim. 3:7.
HOW TO MAINTAIN PERSONAL INTEGRITY
9. What problems face Christians today, and what will help us?
9 The problem facing Christians in view of world conditions is how to continue walking in Jehovah’s way. To be helped, we must be able to see ourselves spiritually as Jehovah God and others see us. To see how we appear to others physically we will stand in front of a mirror. That mirror will reflect to us in detail just exactly how we appear to others. We cannot be fooled in maintaining our personal appearance, because we have something to reflect to us what needs correction and by that reflection we are able to improve any defects or flaws.
10. (a) What did James say all integrity-keepers should do, and what would be the results? (b) Whose principles must we follow?
10 To aid in maintaining personal integrity, Jehovah, the Giver of every good thing, has provided a spiritual mirror. This we read about in these words: “But he who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it . . . will be happy in his doing it.” (Jas. 1:25) James says the one “who peers,” no, not into a literal mirror, but into the perfect law or God’s Word, the Bible. Being pleasing to our Creator can be done in no other way than by walking according to the truths and the principles he has set forth for Christians in his Word. If we want to be pleasing to God and receive the reward of everlasting life, we must be people who live by his righteous principles and not our own principles of what we think is right or wrong. If we think it is safe to follow man’s principles, just take a quick look at the world, guided by its principles of dog-eat-dog and its law of survival of the fittest. That certainly should convince anyone that it is not a safe course to follow.—Jas. 1:17.
11. What course of conduct common to this world must Christians avoid, and what do the records show?
11 One of the evil practices common to this old world is the immoral conduct of its people, a course that Christians cannot afford to imitate if they want Jehovah’s approval. If we follow James’ counsel to peer into the perfect law, we will find this helpful admonition: “Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking in love . . . Let fornication and uncleanness of every kind or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people; neither shameful conduct nor foolish talking nor obscene jesting, things which are not becoming, but rather the giving of thanks.” (Eph. 5:1-4) Some may read that scripture and think, ‘Well, that just applies to those who are not Christians or those lacking understanding of God’s Word. I would never be guilty of these wrongs.’ The records show that thousands who in the past kept integrity later succumbed to the influence of this system and were guilty of these immoral acts. We can resist them, but not on our own strength. It is divine guidance that is needed. When we rely on God’s spirit to direct us, then we can recognize the influences of this system of things and survive this day of testing.—1 Cor. 10:6-11.
12, 13. (a) How do some try to justify their wrong? (b) Who did Paul say would help us in overcoming any weaknesses we have?
12 No one should ever think that withstanding the influences of wickedness and maintaining integrity are going to be easy. Those who have not conducted themselves according to God’s Word but have committed fornication or adultery have said, ‘I just could not help my wrong course. The flesh is weak, and God knows my weaknesses.’ Yes, God does know our weaknesses. That is why he is willing to help us. But are we always certain that we know our weaknesses? If we do, then we should recognize our need for help.
13 Now let us look further into this perfect law and see that, when we do something wrong, we just cannot always say, ‘It is due to the weakness of the flesh,’ and try to justify our wrong. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, says: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) The way out is not the way we think but the way Jehovah God provides. According to Paul, Jehovah is sure to help us so we can keep our uprightness of deportment before him and his people.
14, 15. (a) How does Jehovah’s theocratic organization help us maintain integrity? (b) Whose conduct can we faithfully imitate?
14 Another provision that God has supplied in maintaining integrity is his theocratic organization, a wholly devoted, clean, pure organization that gives us personal guidance so that we can maintain our faithful course. In this organization Jehovah has provided mature, properly trained, faithful overseers in every Christian congregation that are willing to help with any problem that we may have that interferes with our worship of God. They are ever ready to offer counsel from the Scriptures on how we should walk and the way we should talk so as to be identified as Jehovah’s integrity-keepers. Let us note what our relationship to these theocratically appointed overseers should be as set forth in Hebrews: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7) Overseers must walk circumspectly before God, because Jehovah holds them responsible too. Of him that has much, more will be required.—Luke 12:48.
15 We have many examples of men and women who maintained their integrity when put to the test. In their lives we can see illustrated examples of wholeheartedness to Jehovah God. We recognize that a pupil learns faster by having what he hears demonstrated, and that was the way that Christ Jesus taught his apostles and disciples. So if we watch the conduct of our overseers in the organization, then it will help us to maintain our uprightness.—Hebrews chap. 11; Matt. 11:1.
EXAMPLES ANCIENT AND MODERN
16. What test of integrity did Job face, and with what outcome?
16 Job’s life is one we would do well to imitate as to his integrity and endurance. Satan tried to destroy Job’s integrity. Job lost first his material possessions, then his family whom he dearly loved. Finally he was plagued with disease and sickness. But in spite of Job’s losses and the wrong influence brought to bear against him, he endured it and proved Satan the Devil a liar. Job’s attitude was: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) So God blessed him. He restored his wealth, his health, and a family.—Job 1:11-19; 2:7; 42:10-13.
17, 18. In what ways may our integrity be tested today as was Job’s?
17 No one will escape having his integrity tested. Do not underrate the Devil. He knows our weakest spot. He knows what may shake our faith. For some it may be the loss of material things, which would cause them to work harder to make more money to regain what they had before or to get as much as someone else. He may strike through loved ones, turning them against you because of your love for Jehovah God. If because of our love for Jehovah we lose the love of those dear to us, it should not affect our pure worship to Jehovah God. It should simply deepen our appreciation of the wonderful promise from God to provide a hundredfold. Jesus said: “Truly I say to you men, No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold.”—Mark 10:29, 30; Matt. 10:37.
18 Like Job, it may be physical affliction that will test us. Do not ever think of giving up. Draw strength from Jehovah God and remember what Paul said, that God would make the “way out” in order for you to be able to endure. Under these trying conditions we need the new world ever so much more; so, if anything, our faith in it should be stronger. Always make sure that under these circumstances you are doing your best in studying and preaching. Even invalids are required to keep integrity, and many have been helped to do this through letter writing, using the telephone and other means of preaching.
19. How did Jesus prove to be the perfect example for keeping integrity?
19 The greatest example for us in maintaining our integrity was the one who walked with the true God serving as one of his witnesses, one who always obeyed his instructions. He exercised faith of conquering power and showed great endurance under stress. This perfect example that we have to follow is God’s Son, Christ Jesus. His course is without equal among Jehovah’s creatures in maintaining integrity. To test to the limit the integrity of his Son, Jehovah God permitted him to suffer reproach and persecution and finally let him pass out of this life like a disgraced, condemned criminal. But Jesus proved his wholeheartedness to his Father and showed the Devil to be a liar. We should do likewise.—Mark 15:20.
20. (a) Who in this modern day have followed his faithful course? (b) What did one faithful servant say helped him to endure when in prison?
20 Not only do we have Bible examples we can look to as a source of strength and encouragement but we have modern-day examples of integrity-keepers. Thousands of these examples are Jehovah’s witnesses who went through the concentration camps and prisons during World War II. All manner of Satanic schemes were used to try to get them to renounce their faith in Jehovah God. The signing of a declaration renouncing Jehovah God and his organization would have permitted them to return to freedom. The record stands, “Few witnesses signed, in spite of beatings and starvation.” How were they able to maintain their integrity under these conditions? Listen to what one wrote: “For it was in truth the spiritual food that could keep us alive. What an advantage if one had studied the Scriptures beforehand so as to be able to draw from that reserve now!”
21. Regardless of their size, are we benefited by attending Christian assemblies?
21 What this Christian said under these integrity-breaking conditions should impress upon our minds the need to take in knowledge, not only through personal study of the Bible, but through organizational meetings. Who of us can go away from any assembly of Christians and not feel refreshed and strengthened and more determined to follow the path of the upright for having been there? This is true whether just a few are gathered together for Bible instruction in a private home, hundreds in a Kingdom Hall, or thousands in a stadium or auditorium. “Therefore keep comforting one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11) To hear others express their love and faith in Jehovah God is something that strengthens our determination to keep on performing right works and cultivating right desires.
22. What wrong desires did John warn against, and how did Paul say we could overcome such?
22 To direct our thinking in the right way, the apostle John left this information: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” (1 John 2:15, 16) Do we hoard any of these desires in our mind and heart? The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, or the showy display of our means of life? If we do, it is dangerous. Get rid of them. Paul explained how we could, when he said, “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Paul’s recommendation is to think on the good things that are found in God’s Word. The goodness of God, the Kingdom, the blessings of the new world and our privileges of the ministry—these are the things that should occupy our minds and hearts.
RESULTS FROM MAINTAINING PERSONAL INTEGRITY
23. Who must maintain integrity, and what blessings will result from doing so?
23 Maintaining our integrity requires constant attention on the part of every dedicated servant, young or old. It is a full-time job. Consider the wonderful blessings that result from following this faithful course. It is pleasing to Jehovah God to have strong witnesses serving him, able to withstand any opposition or pressure that may come from the inside or from outside the organization. It means closely knit, happy families, recognizing theocratic headship, assisting one another in their worship to Jehovah. These happy families will rejoice in Christian association at their Kingdom Halls, contributing toward healthy congregations. It will mean a clean New World society of Christians, actively praising Jehovah, standing blameless before him on a worldwide scale.
24. What is the hope of those maintaining integrity to Jehovah God?
24 We will be people of integrity if we peer daily into the perfect law and pray sincerely from the heart as David did when he said: “Judge me, O Jehovah, for I myself have walked in my own integrity.” If our determination to maintain personal integrity equals David’s, we can truly hope in Jehovah and entertain a sure expectation of living forever in his new world with a host of like-minded men of integrity, all a part of the universal family of the pure and holy God, Jehovah.