Walk in the Way of Integrity
“As for me, in my integrity I shall walk.”—PSALM 26:11.
1, 2. (a) Why is man’s integrity an important part of the issue of God’s sovereignty? (b) How can intelligent creatures demonstrate that they are on the side of Jehovah’s sovereignty?
WHEN Satan rebelled in the garden of Eden, he raised the universal issue of the rightfulness of God’s sovereignty over all His creatures. Some time later, he challenged that humans would serve God only as long as doing so was to their advantage. (Job 1:9-11; 2:4) Thus, man’s integrity has become an important part of the issue of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty.
2 While God’s sovereignty is not dependent on the integrity of his creatures, humans and spirit sons of God can demonstrate where they stand on this issue. How? By choosing to follow a course of integrity or not. An individual’s integrity, then, is a solid basis on which he or she can be judged.
3. (a) What did Job and David want Jehovah to inspect and judge? (b) What questions arise about integrity?
3 With confidence Job said: “[Jehovah] will weigh me in accurate scales and God will get to know my integrity.” (Job 31:6) Integrity is what King David of ancient Israel asked Jehovah to inspect when he prayed: “Judge me, O Jehovah, for I myself have walked in my own integrity, and in Jehovah I have trusted, that I may not wobble.” (Psalm 26:1) How vital that we too walk in the way of integrity! But what is integrity, and what does it mean to walk in its way? What will help us stay on the course of integrity?
‘I Have Walked in My Integrity’
4. What is integrity?
4 Integrity carries the thought of being upright, blameless, righteous, and faultless. However, integrity involves more than doing what is right. It is moral soundness or completeness of heart devotion to God. Satan questioned Job’s motives when he told God: “For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as [Job’s] bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:5) Along with proper action, integrity requires right heart motivation.
5. What shows that keeping integrity does not call for perfection on our part?
5 Keeping integrity, however, does not call for perfection. King David was imperfect and made several serious mistakes during his life. Yet, the Bible speaks of him as a man who walked “with integrity of heart.” (1 Kings 9:4) Why? Because David loved Jehovah. His heart was devoted to God. He willingly acknowledged his errors, accepted reproof, and corrected his ways. Indeed, David’s integrity is seen in his wholehearted devotion and love for his God, Jehovah.—Deuteronomy 6:5, 6.
6, 7. What does walking in integrity involve?
6 Integrity is not restricted to a certain aspect of human behavior, such as religious devotion. It embraces our entire way of life. David “walked” in his integrity. “The verb ‘walk’ connotes ‘walk of life’ or ‘life-style,’” says The New Interpreter’s Bible. Speaking of those who are “faultless in their way,” the psalmist sang: “Happy are those observing [God’s] reminders; with all the heart they keep searching for him. Really they have practiced no unrighteousness. In his ways they have walked.” (Psalm 119:1-3) Integrity calls for constantly searching to do God’s will and walking in his way.
7 Walking in integrity requires loyal attachment to God, even in unfavorable circumstances. When we bear up under trials, remain firm despite adversities, or resist temptations from the ungodly world, our integrity becomes evident. We ‘make Jehovah’s heart rejoice’ in that he is able to make a reply to the one who is taunting him. (Proverbs 27:11) With good reason, then, we can resolve as Job did: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) The 26th Psalm shows what will help us to walk in integrity.
“Refine My Kidneys and My Heart”
8. What do you learn from David’s plea that Jehovah examine his kidneys and his heart?
8 David prayed: “Examine me, O Jehovah, and put me to the test; refine my kidneys and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2) The kidneys are positioned deep within the body. Figuratively, the kidneys represent one’s deepest thoughts and emotions. And the figurative heart is the total inner person—his motivation, feelings, and intellect. When David asked Jehovah to examine him, he prayed that his innermost thoughts and feelings be searched and scrutinized.
9. In what way does Jehovah refine our figurative kidneys and heart?
9 David pleaded that his kidneys and his heart be refined. How does Jehovah refine what we are on the inside? David sang: “I shall bless Jehovah, who has given me advice. Really, during the nights my kidneys have corrected me.” (Psalm 16:7) What does that mean? It means that divine counsel reached the deepest parts of David’s being and settled there, correcting his innermost thoughts and emotions. So it can be with us if we appreciatively reflect on the counsel that we receive through God’s Word, his representatives, and his organization and allow it to settle deep within us. Regularly praying to Jehovah to refine us in this way will help us walk in integrity.
‘Your Loving-Kindness Is in Front of Me’
10. What helped David to walk in God’s truth?
10 “Your loving-kindness is in front of my eyes,” continued David, “and I have walked in your truth.” (Psalm 26:3) David well knew God’s acts of loving-kindness, and he appreciatively meditated on them. “Bless Jehovah, O my soul,” he sang, “and do not forget all his doings.” Remembering one of God’s “doings,” David continued: “Jehovah is executing acts of righteousness and judicial decisions for all those being defrauded. He made known his ways to Moses, his dealings even to the sons of Israel.” (Psalm 103:2, 6, 7) Perhaps David was thinking of the defrauding of the Israelites by the Egyptians in the days of Moses. If so, reflecting on how Jehovah made known his ways of deliverance to Moses must have touched David’s heart and strengthened his determination to walk in God’s truth.
11. What can help us to walk in the way of integrity?
11 Studying God’s Word regularly and meditating on what we learn from it will also help us to walk in the way of integrity. For example, remembering that Joseph took to flight at the immoral advances of the wife of Potiphar would surely encourage us to flee from similar advances at our place of work, at school, or elsewhere. (Genesis 39:7-12) What about when we are tempted by opportunities for material prosperity or prominence and power in the secular world? We have the example of Moses, who rejected the glories of Egypt. (Hebrews 11:24-26) Keeping in mind the endurance of Job will undoubtedly help us to strengthen our resolve to remain loyal to Jehovah despite illnesses and misfortunes. (James 5:11) What if we become victims of persecution? Why, recalling Daniel’s experience in the lions’ pit would infuse us with courage!—Daniel 6:16-22.
“I Have Not Sat With Men of Untruth”
12, 13. What kind of associations should we avoid?
12 Referring to yet another factor that fortified his integrity, David said: “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.” (Psalm 26:4, 5) David simply would not sit with the wicked. He hated bad associations.
13 What about us? Do we refuse to sit with men of untruth through television programs, videos, motion pictures, Internet sites, or other means? Do we stay away from those who hide what they are? Some at school or at our place of employment may feign friendship with us for devious purposes. Do we really want to develop close ties with those who do not walk in God’s truth? Behind claims of sincerity, apostates may also hide their intent to draw us away from serving Jehovah. What if there are some in the Christian congregation who live double lives? They too conceal what they truly are. Jayson, now serving as a ministerial servant, had friends like that in his youth. About them, he says: “One day one of them said to me: ‘It doesn’t matter what we do now because when the new system comes, we’re just going to be dead. We’re not going to know that we missed anything.’ That kind of talk came as a wake-up call for me. I do not want to be dead when the new system comes.” Jayson wisely cut off his association with such ones. “Do not be misled,” warned the apostle Paul. “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) How vital that we avoid bad associations!
‘I Will Declare All Your Wonderful Works’
14, 15. How can we “march around [Jehovah’s] altar”?
14 “I shall wash my hands in innocency itself, and I will march around your altar, O Jehovah,” continued David. Why? “To cause thanksgiving to be heard aloud, and to declare all your wonderful works.” (Psalm 26:6, 7) David wanted to remain morally clean so that he could worship Jehovah and proclaim his devotion to God.
15 Everything in connection with true worship at the tabernacle and later at the temple was “a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things.” (Hebrews 8:5; 9:23) The altar pictured Jehovah’s will in accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind. (Hebrews 10:5-10) We wash our hands in innocency and “march around [Jehovah’s] altar” by exercising faith in that sacrifice.—John 3:16-18.
16. How does declaring to others God’s wonderful works benefit us?
16 When we think about all that the ransom makes possible, does not our heart become filled with gratitude to Jehovah and his only-begotten Son? With thanksgiving in our heart, then, let us make known to others God’s wonderful works—from the creation of man in the garden of Eden to the complete restoration of all things in God’s new world. (Genesis 2:7; Acts 3:21) And what a spiritual protection the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work is! (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Being busy in it helps us keep our hope for the future bright, our faith in God’s promises strong, and our love for Jehovah and fellow humans alive.
“I Have Loved the Dwelling of Your House”
17, 18. What should be our attitude toward Christian meetings?
17 The tabernacle, with its altar for sacrifices, was the center of Jehovah’s worship in Israel. Expressing his delight in that place, David prayed: “Jehovah, I have loved the dwelling of your house and the place of the residing of your glory.”—Psalm 26:8.
18 Do we love assembling at places where we learn about Jehovah? Every Kingdom Hall with its regular program of spiritual instruction serves as the center of true worship in the community. In addition, we have our annual conventions, circuit assemblies, and special assembly days. Jehovah’s “reminders” are discussed at such meetings. If we learn to “love them exceedingly,” we will be eager to attend meetings and we will be attentive while there. (Psalm 119:167) How refreshing it is to be with fellow believers who are interested in our personal welfare and who help us stay on an integrity-keeping course!—Hebrews 10:24, 25.
‘Do Not Take Away My Life’
19. Of what sins did David not want to be found guilty?
19 Fully aware of the consequences of deviating from walking in God’s truth, David pleaded: “Do not take away my soul along with sinners, nor my life along with bloodguilty men, in whose hands there is loose conduct, and whose right hand is full of bribery.” (Psalm 26:9, 10) David did not want to be counted among ungodly men guilty of loose conduct or bribery.
20, 21. What can lead us into the way of the ungodly?
20 The world today is inundated with a flood of immoral practices. Television, magazines, and movies promote loose conduct—“licentiousness; wantonness; shameless conduct.” (Galatians 5:19, footnote) Some have become enslaved to pornography, which often leads to immoral conduct. Youths especially are susceptible to such influences. In some lands, dating is a custom, and teenagers are pressured into thinking that they must date. Many youths become romantically involved, even though they are too young to marry. To satisfy the sexual desires that are building up inside of them, they soon become involved in immoral conduct to the point of committing fornication.
21 Adults are by no means immune to bad influences. Dishonest business practices and a tendency to make self-serving decisions are indications of a lack of integrity. Walking in the ways of the world will only distance us from Jehovah. Let us “hate what is bad, and love what is good” and continue walking in the way of integrity.—Amos 5:15.
“O Redeem Me and Show Me Favor”
22-24. (a) What encouragement do you find in the concluding words of Psalm 26? (b) What snare will be discussed in the next article?
22 David concluded his expression to God, saying: “As for me, in my integrity I shall walk. O redeem me and show me favor. My own foot will certainly stand on a level place; among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.” (Psalm 26:11, 12) David’s determination to keep his integrity is coupled with his plea for redemption. How encouraging that is! Despite our sinful state, Jehovah will help us if we are determined to walk in the way of integrity.
23 May our manner of living show that we respect and appreciate the sovereignty of God in every facet of our life. Each of us can prayerfully ask Jehovah to examine and refine our innermost thoughts and feelings. We can keep his truth in front of us constantly by a diligent study of his Word. By all means, then, let us avoid bad associations but bless Jehovah among the congregated throngs. May we zealously participate in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work, never allowing the world to endanger our precious relationship with God. As we do our best to walk in the way of integrity, we can be confident that Jehovah will show us favor.
24 Since integrity involves all aspects of life, we need to be aware of a deadly snare—alcohol abuse. This will be discussed in the next article.
Do You Recall?
• Why can intelligent creatures rightly be judged on the basis of their integrity?
• What is integrity, and what does walking in its way involve?
• What will help us to walk in the way of integrity?
• To keep integrity, what dangers must we be aware of and avoid?
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Do you keep Jehovah’s acts of loving-kindness in front of your eyes?
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Do you regularly ask Jehovah to examine your innermost thoughts?
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Our keeping integrity under trials makes Jehovah’s heart rejoice
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Do you take advantage of Jehovah’s provisions to help you walk in the way of integrity?