Fortify Yourself So as to Maintain Integrity
“As for me, in my integrity I shall walk.”—Ps. 26:11.
1. What are some of the thoughts involved in the word “integrity”?
“I MYSELF have walked in my own integrity,” said David, king of the nation of Israel. Would you like to be able to say that about your life course? Would you like to be able to describe your life course as one of moral soundness, honesty, free from corrupting practices? These are some of the thoughts involved in the word “integrity” and that David doubtless had in mind when he made that statement. These are the qualities that should come to our minds too when we think of integrity.
2. (a) How do we know that David was speaking about a godly quality? (b) What should we be able to ask Jehovah conscientiously?
2 This integrity that David was speaking about was a godly quality, for he prefaced his comment, “I myself have walked in my own integrity,” with the words, “Judge me, O Jehovah.” Yes, David was concerned about his uprightness in the eyes of God. Are you? Do you want to be able conscientiously to ask Jehovah to judge you, to examine you, to put you to the test, feeling that God will find you are a person of integrity? How wonderful it would be to be in such a position.—Ps. 26:1, 2.
NEED FOR INTEGRITY
3. (a) Why is this quality of integrity needed? (b) Describe the world today as far as integrity is concerned. (c) How do we know what course God wants us to take in such a world?
3 But why is this quality needed? To gain Jehovah’s approval; it is as simple as that. Note the qualities that the apostle Paul said would mark the last days of this wicked system of things: “Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) The world today is marked by qualities that are opposite to integrity. But after listing these morally unsound, dishonest, corrupt characteristics, Paul went on to say, “And from these turn away.” So God’s inspired Word, the Bible, tells us to avoid such people. God does not want us to be like them. He wants people to maintain integrity, to be wholly loyal to him.
4. Cite examples of lack of integrity in (a) secular work and (b) everyday family life.
4 We all live in a world that is full of such bad qualities, however. We see these manifest constantly. We hear workmen talking. “I overslept this morning, but I’m telling the boss my car had a flat tire on my way to work,” says one. The other counters with, “But that would be lying. Why don’t you just tell the truth?” The late sleeper retorts, “Oh, no. I can’t do that. If I tell the boss something like that I’ll get fired. I was tired and decided to sleep awhile longer when my alarm clock rang this morning. But he doesn’t have to know that.” Is this individual a man of integrity? Is he honest? Would it not have been better for him to get up when he was supposed to and get to work on time? He would have had no fear of losing his job, and he would not have had to explain his lateness. (Prov. 30:8; 14:5) Or what about the teenage boy who threatens his parents that he will leave home if they make him work in the garden instead of allowing him to play ball? Is this not like extortion, a dishonest practice? And what about his parents who, in order to keep him from carrying out his threat, promise to buy him some expensive gift? Are they encouraging uprightness, integrity, by succumbing to his wishes, letting him have his way? Are they not in fact rewarding his rebellious course, giving him a present for such? Are they not bribing him? (Prov. 17:23; Mic. 3:11) In secular work and in everyday family life, we see little or no manifestation of integrity.
5. (a) In what fields in this wicked system is integrity lacking? (b) Why does integrity-keeping need our attention?
5 Even among political leaders and governments of the world we regularly hear of lying and fraudulent practices being carried on. In the commercial world, claims are made in advertising that are deceiving, misleading and often untrue. Then, of course, there are the leaders of false religion who preach from the Bible at times and yet live contrary to its teachings or come forth with philosophies such as “God is dead” or that the virgin birth of Jesus is a myth or that the creation account in Genesis is a fairy tale. From the leaders on down, a lack of integrity is the norm in this wicked system. (John 8:44; 1 John 5:19) And while Christians are to be no part of this wicked system, we must continue living in it until Jehovah brings its end. (John 17:15, 16) So, then, this matter of keeping integrity needs our attention, does it not?
INTEGRITY WEAKENED OR STRENGTHENED?
6. What attitude of worldly youths has rubbed off on some young Christians? Cite an example.
6 It is sad to say, but there are examples of individuals who have followed a Christian course up to a point but who weaken their integrity by giving in to the ways of Satan’s system. Rebellious youths are found throughout the world, even in countries where juvenile delinquency was practically unheard of in times past. And this rebellious attitude of schoolmates rubs off on youngsters who may know the Bible truth but who associate with such individuals. Running away from home is viewed by many of the young worldlings as a way to solve problems. But is it wise for a Christian youth to follow such a course? Is it showing appreciation for Jehovah’s arrangement for parental care to run away from home? (Eph. 6:1-3) Is it showing a desire to maintain integrity? There was the case of a young girl, just entering her teens, who ran away from home because her parents had discovered she was skipping classes in school. She was afraid to talk to them about problems she was having in school and so left home and was later found after dark in a bad neighborhood some distance from home. Fortunately it was a respectable individual who found her and got her to talk, and no harm came to her. But she could have been accosted by someone immoral. Would she have had any excuse before Jehovah if harm had come to her? Was she acting in harmony with the words of the model prayer Jesus taught, “Do not bring us into temptation”?—Matt. 6:13.
7. (a) What wrong course did a boy follow, and to what did it lead? (b) What Scriptural principle did he fail to keep in mind?
7 Or what about the boy who was invited to take an afternoon off from school to go to a party in a classmate’s home because the classmate’s parents were away? At first he was against the idea, but instead of definitely refusing the invitation and sticking to his integrity, he asked questions about what was going to happen. He weakened and decided to go to the party. What happened to this young man can serve as a warning to others. While the party was going on, the police arrived and found marijuana hidden in the house. All the youngsters there were picked up, and the young person’s name is now registered with the police. It may be true, he probably did not even know the marijuana was there, but he neglected to follow the wise counsel of Proverbs 13:20, where it says, “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” Now, with his bad record, he has a harder fight than ever to maintain integrity. Everytime something goes wrong in his neighborhood he is subject to questioning by the police.
8. What can result from failing to heed counsel against “dating” at an early age?
8 Then there are the young teen-agers who think they must “date” and “go steady,” as many children of today do. Contrary to the advice of the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses, the appointed servants in the Christian congregation and even their parents, some youngsters will at an early age get romantically involved with one of the opposite sex. The physical attraction keeps on growing. They are too young to get married, but they want to satisfy the desires that are building up inside them. So they begin toying with immorality, some even going so far as to commit fornication. Such ones fail to show they are wise because they do not “listen and take in more instruction,” as Proverbs 1:5 says wise ones do. Further, they fail to heed the counsel of Pr 1 verse 8 of the same chapter which says, “Listen, my son, to the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” They do not listen to their parents and they do not listen to their heavenly Father, Jehovah, and their “mother,” Jehovah’s wifelike organization. And because of this they fail to maintain integrity, they fail to stay loyally within the moral bounds that God’s Word sets out for them.
9. (a) How should we view borrowing money to acquire luxuries? (b) How should we view lending money to someone for such a purpose?
9 Grown-ups too sometimes fail to follow an integrity-keeping course. Romans 13:8 says that we should not be owing anyone anything except love. But what about the situation where a brother has bills to care for and who has previously borrowed some money from another individual to purchase some items he wanted. Is he following a practical course if he takes out an additional loan to purchase some luxury he wants? Is it absolutely necessary that he have such? Was it necessary that he go in debt to purchase perhaps a stereo, a dishwasher, a piano? In taking on so many financial obligations, is he considering the Scriptural thought: “The wicked one is borrowing and does not pay back”? (Ps. 37:21) For that matter, would it even aid such an individual in a course of integrity to loan him money for such unnecessary luxuries? Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.” Do we want to be someone’s servant by borrowing or have someone like this become our servant by lending? Would it not be better to avoid such and be servants to just one master, God?—Luke 16:13.
10. (a) How can integrity be weakened by a wrong attitude toward those whom Jehovah is using to direct his work on earth? (b) What should be our attitude toward the servants in the Christian congregation?
10 We can fail to maintain integrity by becoming critical of those whom Jehovah God is blessing. Some start looking at the human imperfections of those charged with oversight in the congregations of God’s people. Sometimes when the older men give wise, practical, Bible-based counsel, others mentally and even sometimes vocally go against such because of their dwelling on imperfections or mistakes that may have been made in years past by the same individuals but who now have changed and put on a new personality. Hebrews 13:17 expresses the proper attitude all of us should manifest in our Christian course: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”
11. (a) What can we ask about those who have weakened their integrity? (b) What points have we learned thus far to aid us to maintain integrity?
11 By the course of action that the individuals whom we have been discussing took, can we say they were strengthening their integrity? No, rather, the opposite was true. They were weakening it and even trying to weaken the integrity of others. What will happen when persecution or severe opposition comes upon them? Are these people then going to be able to stand? Will they stay loyal to God, close to their Christian brothers? What about us? Can we profit from considering their examples? Youths, can you not see the need to submit to God’s arrangement for you to be under the direction of your parents? Can you not see the need to avoid bad companionship, to avoid playing “hooky” or “cutting” classes? Do you appreciate the importance of listening to the wise counsel of Jehovah’s Word with regard to morals? And as for adults, can we not see the practicality of avoiding getting into debt unnecessarily, taking on financial obligations that may end up by our being classified as “wicked” by Jehovah? Are we cognizant too of not being critical of our brothers, of not failing to appreciate that Jehovah’s organizational arrangement is for our welfare and protection? Really, we have to work at fortifying ourselves so as to maintain integrity. (Prov. 11:3) But how?
HOW TO FORTIFY YOURSELF
12. What should we seek as far as integrity is concerned?
12 As was mentioned at the outset, King David of Israel sought Jehovah’s judgment as to his integrity. We too should do so. To get Jehovah’s view on the matter of how to fortify our integrity, we can examine Psalm 26, wherein David speaks of this subject in prayer to Jehovah.
13. How is personal study involved with integrity?
13 In Ps 26 verse 3 David says to God: “For your loving-kindness is in front of my eyes, and I have walked in your truth.” For this to be true of us, we need to be acquainted with Jehovah and his truth. That means we should be students of the Bible. So, then, one way to fortify ourselves is by personal study. Daily Bible reading is a fine practice in this connection. Then, too, we have the written material provided through Jehovah’s organization from which we can derive benefit. Many say they have more to read than they possibly can. But do we fail to read the publications of the Society because we really have no time? Or is it because we spend considerable time reading newspapers, worldly magazines and novels? Do these publications encourage us to pursue a course of faithfulness to Jehovah God? Why, even the advertising in newspapers and magazines nowadays can arouse immoral thoughts and desires. How much better it is to spend any time we can to reading information that will serve to strengthen us, build us up spiritually. (1 Cor. 15:58) By our personal study, including preparation for the congregation meetings, we will be able to derive more benefits from the gatherings of Jehovah’s people and to give more for the assistance of others attending with us.
14. (a) What kind of associations are to be avoided? (b) What helps us to avoid bad company? Cite an example.
14 “For I have not sat with men of untruth; and with those who hide what they are I do not come in. I have hated the congregation of evildoers, and with the wicked ones I do not sit,” continued David in Ps 26 verses 4 and 5, pointing out another aspect of fortifying ourselves, that is, avoiding bad associations. The type of individuals David was talking about he mentions further in Ps 26 verses 9 and 10, where he refers to them as “bloodguilty men, in whose hands there is loose conduct, and whose right hand is full of bribery.” For us to stay loyal to Jehovah we must avoid being friends with people such as these, avoid associating with such ones unnecessarily, apart, of course, from preaching the good news of God’s kingdom to them. In fact, preaching to these often assists in avoiding their bad association. To illustrate this point, consider the following: One individual who was studying the Bible for just a few months, and who had been living the life of a “hippie” for some years prior to this study, said: “Sometimes people that we used to be friendly with look us up or write. They are generally very surprised at us, since we very quickly begin to tell them the good news [of the Kingdom]. Needless to say, it’s not good news to them, and surprise turns to dislike and they make hasty exits from our trailer and we don’t hear from them again. But sometimes, too, seeds fall on good soil and there is some interest generated.” Yes, faithfully speaking about our God and his kingdom helps us to avoid bad company.
15. (a) Why do we say that meeting attendance fortifies us? (b) What occurred to individuals who were late for a meeting in Africa?
15 Attending meetings with others who are anxious to do God’s will is another step in the fortification program of which David speaks. He says: “I shall wash my hands in innocency itself, and I will march around your altar, O Jehovah . . . Jehovah, I have loved the dwelling of your house and the place of the residing of your glory.” (Ps 26 Verses 6 and 8) We too should love Jehovah’s house. Today we could look upon Jehovah’s house as the place where knowledge of him is given. Meetings with Christians of like precious faith “incite to love and fine works,” and this will help us to maintain integrity. (Heb. 10:24) We will be built up by the good association and by the fine spiritual discussions we hear and can take part in. Getting to these meetings on time too is important to get the full benefit of the program. In this connection an experience reported from an African country is of interest: A riot occurred between two tribal groups just after the brothers began their meeting. Two brothers who were late saw the fighting in town and returned to their homes. One stood in the doorway of his home with a spear in his hand for protection, as he was afraid the fighting would reach his house. When the soldiers came upon him, they mistook him for one of those engaged in the fighting and refused to release him. In fact, they said: “He is not one of Jehovah’s witnesses; all of Jehovah’s witnesses were at their meeting studying the Bible, but he was not there.” And the other brother who was late? He was kidnapped and killed.
16. What should we not let interfere with out meeting attendance?
16 We cannot afford to let things interfere unnecessarily with our meeting attendance. Why take on secular work to earn extra money for luxuries when the working hours will keep you from the meetings or when the extra work will make you too tired to leave your home to get to the meetings? Or why arrange to have relatives visit you or arrange to visit them at times when the Christian congregation is assembling together? We do not want to miss any of these God-given opportunities to fortify ourselves so as to maintain integrity.—Heb. 10:25.
17. What work reinforces our integrity?
17 Reinforcing our integrity is also done by sharing in the proclamation of God’s purposes to others, the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. David, in Ps 26 verse 7, said he wanted “to cause thanksgiving to be heard aloud, and to declare all your wonderful works.” We should feel the same way. We should take every opportunity we can to share what we know about Jehovah and his purposes with others, preaching the message of truth and then returning to teach those who are interested in learning more, endeavoring to make them disciples of Jesus Christ.—Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20.
18. (a) About what should we pray, and how often? (b) If prayer is a habit, what will we do when any problems come up, and what will result?
18 Still another aspect of fortifying ourselves is prayer. David was very conscious of this. While all of Psalm 26 is in fact a prayer, note Ps 26 verse 11: “As for me, in my integrity I shall walk. O redeem me and show me favor.” We too should promise Jehovah that we will walk in integrity, take advantage of the arrangement he has made for our redemption, and show our appreciation for this by thanking Jehovah and by our course of action, showing him our appreciation by our works. We should keep the lines of communication with Jehovah open. We should talk to him regularly, many times each day, telling him about our love for him and our desire to do his will, talking to him about our problems and desires, seeking his guidance in all aspects of our lives. The more that prayer becomes a habit the easier it will be for us to maintain integrity. When some temptation or wrong course is presented to us, we will automatically take Jehovah into consideration. (Prov. 2:7) In fact, we will often find that in the process of talking to Jehovah in prayer about a matter or a decision we must make, Scriptural passages will come to mind that bear on the subject, thus helping us to understand Jehovah’s view on the matter.
19. To sum up the matter of maintaining integrity, what five things can we do to fortify ourselves?
19 To sum up matters, what are some things that we can do to fortify ourselves so as to maintain integrity? We should personally read and study the Bible and the Bible study aids that Jehovah provides through his organization. We should avoid bad associations. We should attend meetings of those interested in Jehovah’s will and purposes. We should share in the preaching and teaching work foretold for these evil times in which we live. And we should pray regularly to Jehovah to maintain a close relationship with him and dependence on him. But what results from keeping integrity? We will leave the answer to the succeeding article.
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Is it wise for teenagers, too young to marry, to get romantically involved? Physical attraction may cause them to indulge in loose conduct
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If a Christian is too busy to fortify himself by reading Bible literature, is it because he is spending too much time watching TV, reading newspapers and worldly publications?