Almost a year has passed. I really meant to write the book review last October. Somehow, I never got to it. But I’m re-reading the book so I can follow through on what I said I’d do.
Integrity. According to my dictionary, “Rigid adherence to a code or standard of values.” I like the way pastor, and author friend, Warren Baldwin, defines it in his book, Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and Other Gems from Proverbs, “…the internal commitment to do the right thing under any circumstance.” Over and over, the book of Proverbs speaks of this character quality as something to be highly valued:
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3; KJV)
Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1)
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)
In today’s society, it’s not always easy to do the right thing. Especially when the price tag is high. It was no different thousands of years ago in Joshua’s day. Shortly after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they came face to face with a challenging situation.
With the Lord’s help, they had soundly defeated the cities of Jericho and Ai. They were prepared to move forward and take the next city. But wait a minute – it appeared as if people were approaching them on the horizon. A closer look confirmed their suspicions. A number of shabbily clothed men on donkeys entered their camp. This was strange…
Joshua and the men of Israel agreed to listen to what these visitors had to say. “We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us,” (Joshua 9:6b). After further conversation, their story seemed to check out, and they HAD agreed to be Israel’s servants. What could possibly be the harm in letting these people live? The Israelites could actually benefit from having slaves. So Joshua approved the treaty, making peace with them and allowing them to live. But he made one big mistake - he forgot to bring the matter before the Lord.
It didn’t take long before Joshua discovered that the travelers were actually from neighboring Gibeon. They had lied about who they were and where they were from, because they feared for their lives. They had heard that the God of the Israelites had commanded Joshua to destroy the inhabitants of the land – so they came up with a plan that could potentially save their lives. And it worked. Now, Joshua had a difficult decision to make. Many of the Israelites were angry that he had made the treaty, and wanted to kill these imposters. Should he go back on his word?
Joshua kept his word. He would endure whatever consequences followed. He and his men displayed integrity, “We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them,” (Joshua 9: 19-20).
God values integrity. It may not be easy, but keeping my word is important. It just may point someone to the Savior!
Is there a commitment you’ve made that you’ve failed to follow through on? What step will you take today to keep your word?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding me of the importance of integrity. Forgive me for the times I’ve not followed through with the things I said I’d do. Help me to be willing to keep my word, even when it’s difficult. In Jesus’ name, Amen.