From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 10 – How we can develop ‘the love of the truth’ and the character quality , and habit, of truthfulness?
We all struggle at times to know God’s will and to get clear guidance from Him as to what steps we should take in complicated or difficult situations. However, one of the clearest forms of guidance God has given us this general principle of truthfulness, in whatever situation we face. The fact that we know that we are always meant to be truthful is a kind of permanent guidance. This applies in all types of problems or circumstances.
So when you face a thorny problem, and have to choose between two or more courses of action, you may well find that some of the options before you are ruled out automatically. That is because they would involve an element of dishonesty, compromise, or something squalid or underhand. Your conscience therefore tells you that one or more of the options would be wrong, or at least questionable.
If so, then there is your ready-made guidance. You already know which way to go, or at least which way not to go, even without any specific guidance from God. It is a kind of “standing order” as the Police say. The Chief Constable issues certain orders which always apply. He expects every officer to be aware of them, without needing to be told on each and every occasion. As Christians, one of our main ‘standing orders’ is that we should always act with integrity:
The integrity of the upright will guide them,Proverbs 11:3 (NASB)
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
Whenever you need guidance let integrity, and the need to maintain your honour and your reputation for honesty, be your guide. So, if a man is selling some goods so cheaply that you suspect they may be stolen, you don’t even need to ask God for specific guidance as to whether to buy them from him on this occasion. You already know the answer will be no. The principle of integrity provides you with ready-made guidance:
Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless,Proverbs 13:6 (NASB)
but wickedness subverts the sinner.
Likewise, if we have integrity we will be secure. We may not necessarily end up as the biggest, or the best, or the richest, but we cannot be accused of any wrongdoing. That is what counts most to God. Thus our reputation, especially before God, will be secure, whereas other men’s reputations may crumble, as they will be found out:
He who walks in integrity walks securely,Proverbs 10:9 (NASB)
but he who perverts his ways will be found out.
As we have seen, a ‘blameless’ man is not sinless. It just means that he is sincere, earnest and godly and has a genuine desire to do God’s will. His righteous life will, in itself, be a protection and will keep him from scandals and disasters:
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?Psalm 15:1-5 (ESV)
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbour,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honours those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?Psalm 24:3-5 (RSV)
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Many of the people who are ruined in financial collapses fail because they made dishonest decisions, or took excessive risks, or over-extended themselves. They did so in ways which their consciences could easily have told them were wrong at the time. But they pressed on regardless, in pursuit of success, and put aside any feelings of uneasiness that they may have had. That is a sure way to end up in ruin.