One of my favorite books in the bible, if you can really have one, is Proverbs. I truly enjoy reading Proverbs and will browse through it quite often. I want to take a moment and look at one of the verses that seemed to catch my eye.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. Proverbs 11:3
Integrity is a very interesting word. I could not find the word in my Greek dictionary, so I looked it up in a Hebrew Lexicon. The word in Hebrew is Tom (pronounced tome) and it means completeness, fullness, innocence, and simplicity.
In the days of the Old Testament, to be complete one must follow all the laws and the prophets. The laws, which are the commandments, guided them. The people made sin sacrifices in order to atone for their sins. When the law was broken and there was not repentance and atonement, there was usually a harsh penalty administered.
But then God did a wonderful thing. He desired to show just how much He loves His children. He sent His son Jesus to fulfill all the law and prophets. In Jesus we are made complete.
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:10- 13
All of God – His power, His love, the very essence of God is in Jesus. When you ask Jesus into your heart, when you accept the sacrifice of Christ, your sins are nailed on that cross with Him. They are gone, forgotten. You are forgiven, you are born a new creature and you are made complete. The “removal of the body of the flesh by circumcision” is where your sinful nature has been cut away from you. It is gone. Wow! You have been made complete! You are saved, praise God!
But are you complete? Is that all you have to do? If you have truly accepted Jesus and understand the sacrifice he made for you, you are justified by his blood. But do you have integrity?
To answer this you also need to understand what crookedness is.
Celeph (seh’-lef) crookedness, perverseness, crooked dealing.
If you believe you are saved, crooked means that you take the straight path that the Lord made and bend it to fit your need.
When you are born new, you are given a manifestation of the Spirit for the edification of all people. (1 Corinthians 12:7) This Spirit will also guide you in all the right ways (John 16:13) and teach you. We are to use this Spirit in us to help other people. That is our purpose now – to share the love of God with others, so they will also repent and be saved.
Instead there are some who look at people and say “They should get a job and help themselves and not depend on me”, “they are not saved because they go to a certain church and they should stay away from me.” This is judging a person on their circumstances or church before you even know the truth or their individual beliefs. How about when you whisper to someone “did you see how Jane looked at Paul?” This is crookedness. It means that you act deceitfully and offensively, not with the love that God wants you to share. And what does it say in Proverbs? It says this crookedness will destroy you. You say “I can’t be destroyed I am saved… ”. I say your actions speak louder than words.
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the alter? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called he friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
James himself says in verse 24, man is not justified by faith alone. If you have faith you will have the works to go along with it. You can not separate the two. You show your faith by your works just as Abraham did and also Rahab. I like verse 19 where it says that demons also believe. Do you know why? It is showing that just because you say you believe does not mean you are going to heaven. If believing got you into heaven, then Satan would be there along with us. Are your words just words – hollow and empty? Or do you have the works to show your faith? Instead of boasting about how saved you are, you should show how saved you are.
How do you do that? Very simple – love. Love God and love everyone.
And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.
Can you say you love God, but not want to follow His will for you? Can you say you love God and treat others like they are the scum of the earth? Can you say you love someone when you gossip about them? Can you say you love someone but refuse to help them? Can you say you love someone if you judge them in everything they do and say?
Your works are a reflection of your love. Your works should love and edify all people, not only those that you pick and choose to love. The Lord has given each of us gifts; talents that we have that not only edify believers, but edify those who do not believe in order to show them the truth of the Lord’s love. We are to be a testimony for God.
Paul urges the Corinthians to not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Don’t do things to please yourself. Do them because you love God. If you truly have Christ in you, you will have a desire to do God’s will. You will have a desire to share the love of God with all people, because of what He has done for you. The question becomes very simple now, doesn’t it? Do you truly reflect the love of God? Do you truly have Christ in you?
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourself and see. Are you passing the test? Are you complete? Are you loving and edifying all people, believers and unbelievers alike? Can you recognized Christ in you?
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
Yes, we all will go before the Lord and be held accountable for our actions. You may be justified, but you will also receive what is due to you based on your works. If nothing else you need to be honest with yourself, because God already knows your heart.
Dearest Holy Father, you are the only one who truly knows each person for who they are. Touch each person’s heart and help them to examine themselves. Help them Father to see where they need improvement and guide them on how to do it. Lord continue loving and guiding, continue to strengthen and encourage, continue to have patience for those of us who are hard headed. Thank you for your wonderful mercy and grace. Thank you for your love. In the name of Jesus, Amen.