Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. JOHN 15:4-5
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light. MATTHEW 11:30
During Part 3 of the Double series, Mike asked us to write out the demands and the priorities in our lives. Although I was tempted to make those lists in my head and be done with it, I actually wrote them down. And I noticed something interesting.
My list of demands (things I feel pressure about) was parallel to my list of priorities (things I’ve determined are important). But something about each list was different.
For example, being a mom made both lists. Here’s a partial list of my motherhood demands: teach Lucy about God at every opportunity, drive her to various extracurricular activities, volunteer at school, host periodic sleepovers with Lucy’s friends, monitor summer camp opportunities and make them happen, figure out her entire future (kidding, sort of), randomly bake cookies, etc. Not that I’m doing all this — just that I think I should.
But under priorities, my goal for being a mom is simply this: build a loving, trusting, enjoyable relationship with Lucy.
God made both lists, too:
Demands: doing my quiet time, going to Bible studies, attending worship on Sundays, serving when asked, sharing my faith, watching my language, etc.
Priorities: abiding in Him and obeying out of gratitude.
It was the same story with being a wife, a friend and a daughter. All my demands and priorities boiled down to legalism vs. relationship, activity vs. character, striving vs. shining.
So if integrity is the strength to meet the demands of reality, where does that strength come from? Jesus tells us that He is our strength, and we need Him to do everything. He can help me see the demands of my life through the lens of my priorities, letting Him work through me to “produce much fruit.” After all, better Him than me.
- Have you made your list of demands and priorities yet? How are they different from each other?
- What does it look like to abide in Christ on a daily basis? What motivates you to obey Him?
Dear Father in Heaven, thank You for being my strength in every situation. My biggest problem is forgetting that truth. Help me to see the demands of my life through the clear lens of my priorities. Keep my eyes fixed on You throughout the day so that I am motivated by love, and so that my integrity reveals Your grace. Amen.
PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before the coming of this faith,we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:21-29
Sweetgum balls. Don’t let the name confuse you.
They are not the latest dessert craze. You can’t find them in the candy aisle in the grocery store. There is nothing sweet about them and they are far from a treat if you are a homeowner.
The spiky balls that fall from the sweetgum tree are why chainsaw sales remain constant.
As I write these words, my nose is stuffy with allergies, my back and knees are sore and every muscle in my body aches. What is the root cause of my pain?
You guessed it. Sweetgum balls.
This weekend I dusted off the lawnmower and tackled my front yard for the first time this spring. Not only did I kill a few weeds, but also I kicked up a great deal of pollen.
What’s worse is that every time the mower went over a sweetgum ball it instantly became a flying projectile. To people who drove by, it must’ve looked like a war zone in my front yard as these balls went flying by.
After the mowing was complete, I “attempted” to rake up every sweetgum ball in my yard. Attempted is the key word in the last sentence. It was a losing battle. I’d pick up a handful of these spiky balls, bask in my accomplishment and then scan the rest of the yard. They were everywhere.
An exhausting afternoon and numerous Tylenol later, there were still a few sweetgum balls out in the yard.
In the midst of my yard work, I realized sweetgum balls are a perfect example of sin and not because they cause one to get angry and fly off the handle. This is a given.
My feeble attempt of picking up every prickly ball is like my failed efforts to deal with sin. It’s a losing battle and an impossible task.
I’ll spend time correcting a bad behavior or heart issue, and once I think I’m “good,” than another sin rears its ugly head. I recommit even harder to get it “right” and end up facing failure yet again. This cycle repeats itself over and over again.
The old way leads to futility. The law reminds me of my shortcomings when I attempt to keep it all. The law exposes not only my deeds, but my heart as well.
No matter how much religious effort I exert I am incapable of conquering sin on my own. Obedience is always met with failure.
This shouldn’t leave you, or me, feeling defeated. The reality of our situation should cause a reaction of joy, thankfulness, and appreciation to rise within us.
While we were still sinners Christ died for us. He replaced the old with the new. Instead of death, He offers life. He remained faithful while we were faithless. He helped the helpless. God intervened and made things right.
- How are our attempts at keeping the law an exercise in futility?
God, thank you for rescuing me. In the midst of my hopelessness, Your grace is my hope. May I trust that Your love is enough and that my forgiveness is covered. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
This weekend Mike shared with us Habit Absent Desire, a poem he wrote about integrity. His words captured perfectly the tension many of us feel when we try to live courageously and walk with godly character. The poem was inspired by the following passages of Scripture:
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7
I am surrounded by fierce lions who greedily devour human prey – whose teeth pierce like spears and arrows, and whose tongues cut like swords. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens! May your glory shine over all the earth. Psalm 57:4-5
For today’s devotional, we wanted to share this poem with you:
Habit Absent Desire // A Poem by Mike Ashcraft
What if when no one is looking,
I may not be who I think
Bombarded by the assault from the enemy,
the ground around me seems to sink.
Almost without notice-
the life I know gives way
And something makes a shift-
what had been solid now sways.
The struggle isn’t accounted for,
seems it’s all or naught
But the fight is part of the battle,
in this soul war that must be fought.
The height of this battle occurs when I’m spent
An escape from reality- that’s the way I am bent.
I am most pressed after doing what I am called to do
The surge so fast, it runs under what I know to be true.
It seems to come from a habit- a habit without intent
It creates a void in purpose- the place for which I’m meant
The unthinking mind allows the unguarded heart
To be left open- this is precisely the start
As I ponder the struggle- I promise and try
Working to figure and understand why
I realize my heart is exposed to the mire
Caused by a habit absent desire.
I do not need more commitment or effort of will
My need is for a place in the chaos that’s still
And this place is not so my heart can find calm
But rather awakened and filled with a psalm
For habit without desire leaves me feeling numb
But a heart awakened by the Christ rests on the fact that this war’s been won
A war not won by working to restrain
But only won by resting, awakened as I remain.
- How can your current struggles awaken you to your need for Christ’s love, forgiveness and understanding?
- Where are you reluctant to remain in Christ? Where are you relying on your own efforts and strength to walk with integrity?
- Are you living your life based off the demands of others or through your priorities?
Lord, awaken in me a desire to remain in You. Help me to stay connected to You regardless of what comes my way. Expose the places in my heart that I don’t want to address. Give me the courage to bring them to the light. In the midst of all that is going around me, enable me to remain still and trust in You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
Often the difficulty we have with Scripture is not due to a lack of comprehension but rather unwillingness on our part to put those truths into practice, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people. For instance, take today’s passage found in Romans. It is straightforward and easy to understand. Yet, for all of its’ simplicity, we struggle to act upon what we know.
What makes applying these commands appear so daunting? Why are we met with such resistance? Quite simply, these actions of love, humility, generosity and joy run counterculture to our human flesh. When someone pushes our buttons, all we want to do is push right back. And, if we don’t react we tend to avoid so we don’t have to deal with that individual. Relying on our own strength to accomplish loving that difficult person would be pure foolishness. True obedience is only possible when we rely on Christ’s heart to be reflected in us and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.
We are confronted with this reality in verse 9 when the author reminds us that love must be sincere. There’s no such thing as “I can love him, but I don’t have to like him.” We must stop giving simple lip service to love. How can one say they believe in a loving God, but fail to show love to those around them? What message would we be sending to a lost world if we spoke of Christ’s love yet did not exhibit the one quality the defines our faith? Love requires action (1 John 3:18).
The author continues and says, “hate what is evil and cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Rather than rationalizing and justifying away the struggles that are present in our lives, we must come face to face with them. But, we can’t stop there. We must drop our sinful ways and cling to God’s grace as well as rejoice in the good He is producing within us.
At first glance, urging us to hate evil and cling to what is good appears to have no connection to the charge to love those difficult people in our world. We are left scratching our head wondering how confronting the sin in our own lives helps us exhibit love to those around us. It all boils down to a perspective shift.
Because we understand the depths to which we’ve been forgiven we are able to love others through humility (Romans 12:10), have hope and patience in the midst of any circumstance (Romans 12:12) and be generous with everything we’ve been given (Romans 12:13). When one believes they are loved freely by God, they are freed to love others, even “that guy.”
This is easier said than done. It’s as if the author knew our human tendency to become distracted and lose sight of Christ’s love. So, he reminds his audience in verse 11 to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” When we become lazy in our spiritual life and disregard our integrity, we make ourselves vulnerable towards letting status quo, convenience and our feelings direct our actions as well as our relationships.
However, becoming sluggish in our pursuit of God has an even more damaging effect on the message we transmit to others. If we are not excited about grace and forgiveness, how can we ever expect those who we want to influence to be drawn towards the cross? Imagine the difference and impact we could have if this body of believers applied these five short verses to our everyday life. We can no longer speak about love. The time has come to answer the call to love extravagantly on Christ’s behalf.
- Looks at you relationships. Where are you allowing status quo, convenience and your feelings to guide your connections with others?
Lord, help me to love boldly. May Your heart be reflected in both my actions and my words. Let the hope that I have in You speak volumes to the people You put in my path. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”Jeremiah 31:33-34
Mistakes of the past have the ability to bring a sense of condemnation or shame. The brokenness we’ve experienced or are currently engaging in has us wondering if there is any hope. The baggage we cling on to has us doubting that redemption is possible.
Clinging on to those past hurts, failures and regrets hinders walking freely with Christ. Experiencing the full life Jesus promises is impossible when our backs are turned with our eyes fixated on our past. The weight of these mistakes slows down our pursuit of God by diverting our attention from the future. In essence, we are walking into the future facing the wrong direction. The problem is we were designed to move forward, not backwards.
What we are carrying slows us down, wears us out and causes us to stumble. Our entire lives can be controlled and destroyed by small little windows of time where we made a bad decision. When a mistake gets in our mind, instead of moving past it and forward, we stall get the spiritual “yips.” The scars and wounds influence the way we perceive ourselves, others and even God Himself. Our baggage distorts what we believe about God as well as the way we think He sees us.
Then there are those who will try to ignore their wounds and pretend like everything is okay. They keep everyone at a distance by wearing a mask and hiding the pain and hurt that rages deep inside of them. All their effort is spent in making sure no one sees through their façade. The baggage prevents us from being transparent in community by obstructing our relationships with others.
Rather than letting them go, we carry these burdens with us. As a result, our walks with God, as well as our relationships with others, are hindered. Baggage and shame keeps us from enjoying the fullness of life that God wants us to experience. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God doesn’t want us to be weighed down by emotional baggage or carrying around burdens that we were not intended to bear.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). The offer Jesus made thousands of years ago remains available: I will carry your baggage for you.
It doesn’t matter the weight of our bags or the heaviness of our shame, none are too heavy for Jesus. The time has come to let them go and give them to Him. When we surrender our scars, wounds and hurts to Him, He heals us and lifts those burdens. Then we will be able to repeat the words found in Psalm 118, “in my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.”
- If God remembers our sins no more, why do we often wallow in our past?
God, no longer will I wallow in my mistakes. No longer will I be shackled to my regrets. No longer will I allow my past mistakes to define my present or determine my future. Today, I will trust that Your grace is enough. You conquered death so I might experience life to the full. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3–4
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. Exodus 20:2–5
Has God ever put you on the bench? Told you to take a time-out from something?
For a long time, music was my thing. In junior high and high school, like many, I struggled with self-confidence. I was quiet and shy—except when I got onstage. And for a week or so after, I got attention. I was popular, talked about. I got some buzz. While up on the stage, I sang with sincerity and to express the message of a song, I also became quite addicted to the high it brought me and the attention it brought as well. Singing had become an idol.
So one day in college, God benched me. He told me to sit this season out. Serve behind the scenes. So that Christmas season I wove pine into wreaths backstage while the choir practiced their gorgeous hymns, the soloists’ voices, rich and strong, echoing through the auditorium. It was painful.
God had to realign my heart and its motives.
Was I singing for His glory or for my own?
Where was my identity coming from?
If I had to live a life without singing, would I be okay with that, or would it wreck me?
We all have things we’re good at and things that bring us pleasure. But sometimes we can get addicted to the attention, to the likes, to the applause. These days, on a smaller scale, it’s social media. Are we posting something for attention, for a like, for a jolt of “you are worthy”?
For me, I recognize the feeling, the “high” I get when I’m starting to do things for the applause, for the likes, to feel worthy.
At these times, I stop, breathe and remember the verse, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit …”
On the other hand, we shouldn’t bury our talents either. This is the other extreme: false humility. Sometimes it’s time for us to step out of the wings, off the bench, and use our talents to glorify God and serve others. And having gifts for performance—being able to step out on a stage or platform with confidence to speak, sing, write, whatever—can be used to glorify God.
In my case, there have been seasons that God has benched me from something so He can realign my heart and my motives back to center. But then He pushes me off the bench and says, “now, play ball!” (It’s almost baseball season. Thought that was appropriate!)
- Has God ever benched you for a season? Why do you think this happened? What did you learn from it?
- Do you know the warning signs that you’re getting too much of your identity or security from something, whether an activity, a relationship, or a talent?
Lord, help us to keep our motives and ambitions pure. Give us some warning signs, a check-engine light, when we’re getting too much of our identity or self-worth from something or someone other than You. Help us to realign our hearts with Yours, and help us to humble ourselves to Your training when we do, even if we’re benched for a while. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
PC3 writer Andrea Barilla wrote today’s devotional.
Now Joseph had been taken to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he did successful, Joseph found favor in his master’s sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar also put him in charge of his household and placed all that he owned under his authority. Genesis 39:1-4
I often find myself thinking, “If I were already where I’d like to be in life, or if my children were super well-behaved, or if my work environment weren’t stressful having integrity wouldn’t be a constant battle.” Life is not perfect and neither am I. I have to ask myself: What if the circumstances in my life, the good and the bad, are meant to develop in me a character where integrity is always evident?
In the life of Joseph, we find a man who chose integrity in some rather hard-pressed situations. Joseph, known for his colorful coat bestowed to him from his father, had some older brothers who were quite jealous of his favoritism. Things only got worse when Joseph shared a dream he had. The vision would suggest that one day, they would bow down to him. Later, he would have another vision where not only the brothers were bowing, but his father and mother as well.
Insulted by the dreams, the brothers were tempted to kill Joseph but settled for selling him. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, purchased Joseph. Can you imagine being given a dream of becoming a ruler, only to become a slave? He could have had a terrible attitude. He could have entered the house feeling sour, pouty and angry. Instead, Joseph kept his integrity and found favor with his master. Maybe he realized having a bad attitude could land him in a worse position than he was already in. By trusting God, his integrity remained, and Joseph obtained authority over all the household.
Joseph was doing well enough in his new life until one day, Potiphar’s wife approached Joseph insisting on him to be intimate with her. He refused, but she did not give up so easily. Day after day she would confront him; day after day, he refused. Talk about personal integrity. Not only did he refuse Poitphar’s wife, but he reminded her of his authority over the household. He had responsibilities and took them very seriously. Joseph also took God seriously. We can hear it when he tells her that adultery is “a great evil and sin against God.”
Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife decides to accuse Joseph of the very thing he had refused. She lies and tells Potiphar that Joseph had tried to be intimate with her and Joseph is thrown into prison. But even after being falsely accused, Joseph keeps his integrity. God grants him favor in the eyes of the warden who gives him authority over the other prisoners.
Throughout all the events in Joseph’s life, the Lord was with him, and he remained in the Lord. He entered every situation with confidence in God’s sovereignty and believed that what God had revealed to him in his dream would come to pass. Supported and carried in this confidence, Joseph was able to endure the difficult trials of his life; he was content through the process. You never heard him complain throughout scripture even when he had the right to do so. He was faithful to God, trusting Him through it all, therefore finding strength to keep his integrity in every situation.
Joseph’s story ends with him as second in command to Pharaoh. His family does indeed end up bowing to him. But still, his integrity is evident. Joseph doesn’t throw the past in their faces. He extends grace and kindness. The life he lived is an excellent example of what integrity looks like, especially when confronted with difficult circumstances. It proves that having integrity is both necessary and beneficial.
- How do you handle a difficult situation? Are you quick to take the easy way out? Do you believe that by keeping your integrity the outcome will be more beneficial? Why or why not?
Heavenly Father, in times when leaving my integrity at the door may seem easier, help me to remember that staying true to You not only benefits my own life, but the lives of others. Give me the strength to endure all things with the right attitude, trusting that You are sovereign and are shaping me more into Your image. In Your name, Amen.
PC3 writer Mandy Hughes wrote today’s devotional.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:33-34
Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Over the years this definition of integrity has become extremely popular in capturing what integrity looks like. Even though there is a great deal of truth to the statement, the definition in and of itself is incomplete.
Our mind can go in a thousand different directions regardless of whether we are in a crowded room or all by ourselves behind closed doors. The size of the audience is of little significance. The deceptiveness of our thinking and the allure of our heart doesn’t care who surrounds us.
In fact, when we are all alone, the tension of walking in integrity becomes even more heightened. Isolation is a formidable enemy of integrity. We can go so far down a rabbit hole of thought that we can convince ourselves that anything is a good decision. We can rationalize our behavior and twist the truth to fit our agenda.
This creates chaos in our hearts. Sometimes these actions and thoughts see the light of day, other times they do not. Regardless, the longer we live deceiving ourselves the more our soul dies. A lost soul isn’t a destination, it’s a condition.
Because we want to be seen as good people, we wrestle with what to do with these thoughts and actions that happen behind closed doors. We worry that if we exposed our true self people would think less of us. Will people love the real us? Due to this uneasiness, many of us spend a good portion of our lives pretending. We fake it until we can make it.
The erosion of our integrity first shows up in our frustration. We are unsettled and discontent. This frustration slowly moves its way into our connections with others and poisons our relationships. We compete and compare. One of the major reasons why we struggle to see God working in our lives is because our eyes are set on what everyone else is doing.
As soon as our contentment wanes, our eyes go searching for everything and anything to get it back. Rather than turning towards God and asking Him what He’s trying to teach us through this tension, we set our gaze to the world in hopes it has the answers we are looking for. Destination thinking begins to set in and we reason if we can just get this or that then we will be content. But, our contentment isn’t going to be found in anything we achieve, own or do. God is the only one who has the strength to make our heart content.
When Jesus speaks of seeking the kingdom of God above all else, He is reminding us how important our eyes are to integrity. We are likely to see what we are looking for so seek first His Kingdom. It’s impossible to want to competing things at the same time so where we remain makes a big difference. To remain in God takes tenacity and grit. It requires us to stay put and to hold on tight. It means bringing our whole self to our whole life and having the courage to be seen by all.
- Think of the places where you are experiencing discontentment. What seems to be fueling this tension?
- Why do you believe God is trying to get your attention in this circumstance? What could He be teaching you in the midst of what you are going through?
God, help me to realize that I live my life for an audience of ONE and that is YOU. Shine a light on where discontentment reigns in my heart and give me the courage to confront those places. Today I want to remain connected to You. Remind me that this connection is one that matters above all else. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.
See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Psalm 25:19-21
He’s always on the go, always busy, and always falling short of something. She’s taking on responsibility for everyone else, under pressure, and trying to make sense of her life. Recognize these folks? It is surely trite to mention that each of them is also stressed in an unhealthy way. One minute they are loathing the co-workers who said something that was not helpful but discouraging. The next minute they are dreading going home to chaos, dysfunction or even distance between each other. Indeed it is the “every” man and the “every” woman.
We may or may not identify with these individuals in a big way, but it’s true that at times, life shakes our faith and so too our integrity. Among other big-name virtues such as patience and kindness, integrity can be a sneaky little virtue that is a big deal. Much like humility, it might come disguised as the remedy to make a person seem more upright and less annoying. Even though it is not quite that, we probably still feel guilt when we are without integrity.
If we assume integrity is a virtue necessary for living, then we must first accept integrity is something that comes from God. Since we are created in His own image, the lofty idea of integrity is something God gave humankind.
We see in Psalm 25 its author, David, who states his desire for God. He also states his dependence on God, considering Him a “refuge.” David prays for shame not to come upon him. He prays for guidance from God.
David, although a widely known figure, was in the same breath the “every” man. He grappled with conflict all the time. He dealt with his enemies, some just barbaric, but others he created himself. He dealt with the weight of his own sin. His life was shaken from its center.
What if integrity is the shock absorber?
When we allow God to intervene in our adversity, it enables us to drift closer and closer to His truths. It allows Him to develop true integrity in us. Integrity is the concept that allows us to stand firm in our convictions. “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his.’” (2 Timothy 2:19)
Leaning on God rather than ourselves also develops integrity in us. We have to respect all that integrity does for us. It is not only about “speaking up for what is right,” or “what you do when nobody is watching.” It’s more than that.
Integrity involves recognizing God’s perspective. It is a fact we are going to go wrong at multiple junctures in our lives. Ever heard the saying “Life is a series of serious choices?”
Like that “every” man and “every” woman, circumstances will shake us. We all strive to be one way, solid, and transparent to all, but hardships put our character to the test. What Christ gives us through His Good News helps us with that solid integrity.
Allowing God to work in us when times are tough is part of standing firm. Our failures can be His victories!
We come to a point where we must express integrity and what it does. When our self-talk is constantly “I got this,” or “I know better,” we get stuck in a cumbersome trap. Maybe it doesn’t harm us right away, but the sad thing is we don’t develop any more integrity than we had the day before. We continue to feverishly plug leaks in the dam.
We are human and fickle. The strength we draw through reliance on our Creator is real freedom. He is truly “steady and unchanging.”
- We all want to be able to stand firm through what life deals us. For you, what is that and why is it hard?
- When we embrace our imperfections we also embrace God’s goodness. What are some areas in your world that could use strength through the reinforcements of integrity?
Father, teach me more about who You are and how You are, and please show me how I might need to act on certain things in my life. Forgive me for the times I worry and do not put my full trust in You. Help me to see through your perspective as it concerns the trials I face. In Your name Jesus, Amen.
PC3 writer Adam King wrote today’s devotional.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18
A few years back my wife and I took our daughter to a state park near where I grew up in western Maryland. The park is up on the side of a large mountain and overlooks the town below. To say the views are spectacular would be an understatement. When the leaves begin to change it is a thing of beauty. Our daughter, who was just learning to walk, wanted to get a closer view and began to head towards the edge. Luckily, mom was quick on her feet and swooped her up. Even luckier, there was a guardrail to protect her from the steep drop off that lied on the other side.
Guardrails protect us from danger. Anytime we get behind the wheel of a car, ride our bike or walk on a trail, we notice these guardrails. These boundaries are there to keep us from heading to places we don’t want to go. They alert us to danger on the other side. But, here’s the thing. Boundaries aren’t only necessary in our everyday experiences. They are critical in our spiritual life where we pursue of integrity and reflecting God’s character.
Boundaries are important because no matter who you are, what you struggle with, whether you’re a Christian or not, married or not, in school, have a job…no matter who you are, one fact remains true: your greatest regret relationally, morally, or ethically–whether in the past or yet to come–could have been or can be avoided. Avoiding these regrets have almost everything to do with boundaries.
The problem is our natural tendency is to push ourselves to the limit and get as close to the line as possible. From our limited perspective, boundaries appear restrictive. Nothing about them appears freeing. We want to live our lives without restraint. What we don’t realize is the regret that lies on the other side.
Rather than restricting our life, boundaries free us to live a life without worry of a moral fender bender or worse yet a complete wreck. No one has ever said they’ve regretted setting up boundaries, but there are numerous people who can tell you story after story about the chaos that was caused due to the lack of guardrails in their lives.
It is critical we establish boundaries and a personal standard of behavior that influences both our actions and our words. We need to pay attention to the way we walk. We must steward our influence well and this begins by protecting one’s integrity. Each one of us has areas in our life that left to our own devices we’d get in trouble by giving up control of our heart and mind to something or someone else.
These are the places where guardrails must be erected. Boundaries need to become a matter of conscience–a line you’re so committed to not crossing or violating that your conscience makes you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you cross it. A boundary is a warning sign going off…”Danger, go the other way, don’t go any further!”
Chances are good you already know where you need to plant a guardrail, where you need a personal standard of behavior that informs your heart. Setting boundaries is a way of preserving yourself for God’s plans for your life. You have no idea what God has in store for your future, and you could miss it if you don’t set up healthy boundaries.
- What guardrails do you need to setup to protect your character and integrity?
God, open my eyes to the places where I’m vulnerable. Help me to avoid the danger on the other side by creating boundaries in my life. May I steward my influence well by protecting my integrity. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.