Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
I’m going to key in on the “heart that devises wicked plans”. This is a total self serving attitude with evil motives toward splitting up a church or trying to get their way over matters of judgement and doing and/or saying about anything, in order to reach their goal. When someone looks for things to complain about and criticize constantly over matters of opinon, then they have a heart that is not pleasing to God. It’s one thing to criticize in a construtive manner, but when the Bible talks about building each other up and looking for the good in others including giving people the benefit of the doubt over things, we should look for ways to strengthen the body of Christ every way possible. I Thess. 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”. Paul said in Phil. 2:1-2, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind”. Let’s quit pushing our own agenda, and think about what’s good for the whole body of Christ and that which is pleasing to God. People as a whole, avoid the troublemakers at congregations, and for good reason, negativity is contagious, and the troublemakers seem to gravitate to each other because nobody else wants to be a part of their heart that devises evil plans. What kind of reputation do you want to exhibit among God and Christians?
I worked at Vanderbilt Medical Center for over forty years. The medical center had a number of specialty Clinics. One of the most popular centers was the Nutrition Clinic. At this clinic patients were taught how to manage their special diet. One day I was going past that clinic and saw a sign over the door that said “WHAT YOU EAT IS WHAT YOU ARE.” I got to thinking, what exactly does that mean? Then it came to me that the nutritionists were trying to get over the concept that if we eat unhealthy food that has high fat content, a lot of salt or sugar, and low fiber we will most likely be obese and very unhealthy. The nutritionists were trying to get their patients to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Meats that we eat should be low in fats like fish and chicken etc. This diet will lead to a healthy body.
This concept applies to our spiritual health (What You Think Is What You Are). Think about it, when we spend a great deal of time watching adult themed movies, read adult books, spend time on the internet watching adult websites, we are poisoning our spiritual lives. We will be sick and unhealthily spiritually. There is an old saying “Garbage in, Garbage Out.” In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Love not the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” When we watch and read this filth, we develop a lustful attitude. We read in James 1:14-15, “but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
It is easy to see when we consume all this garbage, our mind as well as out spiritual life will be very unhealthy and sick. Paul tells us in Philippians 4: 8 what to meditate on: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.”
In order to live the life God would have us to live, we must not simply refuse to eat whatever is found in a garbage bin, but actively seek to eat of the finest delicacies available. These finest (spiritual) delicacies can be found by spending time in God’s Word. When we do this we will develop a healthy spiritual life. 2 Peter 1:4-8 defines the growth of a healthy Christian. “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we want healthy physical bodies, we will eat good healthy food, and if we want healthy spiritual lives, we will spend time in God’s word and think on principles found there.
Through the centuries this challenge has taken on a more complex meaning in disagreements with peoples and nations.
The Mason-Dixon Line is usually thought of as the dividing line between the North and the South in our country and symbolizes a great conflict that tore our nation apart.
The Maginot Line was a fortification built on the eastern border of France for protection from invading armies. During World War II the German army passed to the north of the line and attacked the French from the rear capturing the line.
During the Korean Conflict (War) the United Nations Security Council established the 38th Parallel as the line which North Korea was to retreat to and not enter South Korea beyond that line. North Korea ignored the resolution and invaded the South.
Spiritually speaking, we are called upon to draw lines every day.
Where do we draw the line when it comes to sin? For example, where do we draw the line when we are faced with decisions about drinking alcohol, taking habit forming drugs, or having sexual relations outside of marriage? Do we see just how close we can get to the line and then convince ourselves we will not cross over the line? Do we run with a crowd that is always pushing the line and testing us to see just how far we will go?
As Christians, we often sing the song “Have You Counted The Cost.” The first verse begins, “There is a line that is drawn by rejecting our Lord.” If we reject the Lord, we can live anyway we please and have little conflict. If we cross over the line and accept Christ, we are signaling the beginning of a battle. We will battle Satan everyday as he tries to devour us (I Peter 5:8), but our reward will be eternal victory in Jesus (I John 5:4).
Where have you drawn the line?
–by David Coleman
Integrity is defined, in part, as being moral, ethical or honest. We watch the news everyday and find that people of influence and people on whom we depend such as our teachers, governmental leaders, and those in other positions of authority seem to have lost their moral compass. We see that our financial institutions have been led by people who have not had integrity as a character trait. We also see that our governmental leaders have not dealt with us in honesty. How do we, as Christians, react to the demoralizing news we see and hear each day?
First, we must understand that this is not a modern problem. From the beginning of time, man has participated in dishonest practices. Eve was deceived by Satan and then deceived Adam and sin was introduced into the world. Rebekah and Jacob conspired to defraud Esau of his birthright by duping Isaac.
Second, we must recognize that men of this world do not submit themselves to God’s plan for righteousness. Therefore, they will not act righteously, but will follow their own desires and do whatever it takes to satisfy them.
Lastly, since injustice and dishonesty are a part of the world we live in, we are taught again and again in the scriptures that God’s people may not be able to stop evil, but they cannot participate in it. God’s people are a people of integrity. We must deal with God honestly and must live with our fellow man in integrity.
When children of God realize we have succumbed to the ways of the world and engaged in deceitful and outrageous behavior, we repent and change. As in the case of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, we will make right the wrong we have done. We make retribution for our dishonesty. Once we have realized our error, we cannot wait to correct that error. The sins that David participated in could hardly be undone, but, as evidenced in some of his Psalms, he prayed earnestly to God for forgiveness. He had the worldly authority to sweep his actions under the rug, but, as a man after God’s own heart, he could not do that.
Often, Christians find themselves victims of man’s injustice and evil activity. How do children of God react to such wrongs? As hard as it seems, we are not a people of vengeance. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, we are told to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all men. And it tells us that no one is to repay others with evil for the evil done to them. But, we are to seek good for all men.
God has always taught his children to be honest and upright people. The Proverbs tell us we are to be honest in our own business dealings in 11:1 and 37:21 and also in Jeremiah 22:13. Romans 12:17-21 tells us how a Christian is to deal with all men, good or evil. We are to provide what is right in the sight of everyone. We are people who are to overcome evil by doing what is good. We are not ones to be drawn into the evil that is done to others or to ourselves.
Impossible? Unless we sacrifice ourselves completely to God, it is. In Romans 12, we are told those who devote themselves wholly to God will not be conformed to this world. We will not think or act as the world does. We will not think too highly of ourselves. We will use sound judgment. We will love without hypocrisy. We will hate evil and cling to good. We will bless those who persecute us and not curse them. We will leave the vengeance for wrongs done to us in God’s hands.
We see the evil man does to others. We may even feel the pain of evil done to us. God’s people know full well that this world is not our home. There is a place prepared for us where such things do not happen. So, we do the hard things the world will not do. We will not return evil for evil, we pray for those who persecute us. And, as Romans 12:18 says, as far as it depends on us, we will be at peace with all men. The peace we are most interested in is the peace found in God. We are encouraged to find that peace and we are told how to do it in Philippians 4:6-8: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.” What consumes your mind? These things or dwelling on the bad things done to you, a way to get even, hate, or vengeance. Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
In November, a professional golfer, J. P. Hayes, was playing in a PGA golf tournament with much riding on his performance. He had not had a good year and needed to do well to keep his PGA card that would allow him to play in a full slate of tournaments in 2009. During this tournament, he had used a golf ball to finish a hole that he had not started the hole with; that is against the rules. When he discovered this, he immediately went to officials and informed them, and it cost him a 2 stroke penalty. But the story does not end there. In a later round of the same tournament, he was given a ball to play by his caddie, which was experimental and given him by the manufacturer to test for them. This ball had not yet been approved for use by the PGA. He did not discover this error until in his hotel room after the round. The next day he went to the officials to inform them, and was disqualified from the tournament. His action had the potential to cost him millions of dollars in earnings on the 2009 PGA golf tour. When asked why he did this when only he knew his error, he said it was the right thing to do. Many sports analysts questioned such an action when only he knew and had “gotten away with it.” Some quoted the old NASCAR adage, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’!” I don’t know much about Mr. Hayes and can’t speak to his honor away from the golf course, but I can tell you that he is an honorable man on the golf course.
Honor and right doing are things that seem to be less and less admired by many. Thus, it is practiced less and less by many. If one can “get away with it,” why not just go on and do it? When we see corporate greed gripping its executives so firmly they will do wrong, even when the probability of being discovered is great, we have a real moral problem in our society. Doing right does not seem to impress people anymore.
God’s people, above all others, will do right no matter what the cost or whether others know or care that they are practicing honor before God. Jesus did the will of His Father, even though it cost Him His life. The apostles taught about Jesus when warned not to. In Acts 4:19-20 and 5:29, they said they had no choice but do what was right in God’s sight even when it went against the wishes of man and could cost them their freedom or lives.
The attitude of doing wrong as long as we are not found out is foreign to God’s teaching. Oh, we may take comfort in the fact that none of our friends, family or fellow Christians know about our sin, but God lets us know He knows. Jesus tells us in Luke 8:17 nothing is hidden that will not be made known and what is done in secret will come to light. In Romans 2: 16, we are told God will judge our secrets according to the gospel through Christ Jesus. God’s children are to do right in the sight of God and do right in the sight of man according to Romans 12:17 and 2 Corinthians 8:21. Christians are to be people of integrity.
Christians do what is right simply because it is right. We can only do this when we understand what is right and are trained by the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us the Word of God equips us to do what is right. Do you want to practice right, whether seen or not? Practice God’s word. If we dwell on unrighteousness, we will practice unrighteousness. If we dwell on righteousness, we practice righteousness. Philippians 4:8-9 explains how we can grow to the point where we practice right without having to think long and hard about every situation in which we find ourselves. We are a people who practice right without having to weigh the cost; we already know the reward. I am proud of Mr. Hayes for his integrity in light of the huge cost he faces. I am proud of God’s people when they practice the teaching, without hesitation, of Philippians 4:8 (NASB) and “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your minds dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace shall be with you.”