Demonstrate Integrity

Posted: November 17, 2011 in Bible, Church, Discipleship, Gossip, Stories

We do not work on our integrity every now and then. Rather, we must continually address the issue of integrity in our lives because of the insidious nature of dishonesty, which always presents us with small, seemingly insignificant openings. Few people actually decide to outright lie or cheat; instead, they find themselves taking shortcuts out of convenience. These shortcuts can actually lead to the eroding of our standards which eventually leads to making duplicity the norm.

Solomon provided a catalogue of negative actions and character traits that the Lord hates. There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19, ESV). Each of seven things in the list targeted its intended victim for ruin; however, they can also boomerang and ruin the troublemaker as well. Arranged for easy memorization, Solomon fleshed out a concise and vivid description of the troublemaker. The first five on the list moved from the head to the feet and concern general moral characteristics such as pride, deceitfulness, and a violent tendency. The last two describe troublemakers who break the bonds of confidence and loyalty between people by offering false testimony and stirring up trouble among brothers.

By using an idiomatic Hebrew expression, “six things…seven,” Solomon presented a representative list, rather than an exhaustive one, that sought to draw particular attention to the final item as the focus of God’s hatred. This literary device bridged the first six on the list to a heightened expression of what the Lord hates by escalating it to what He finds to be detestable or an abomination.

“Arrogant eyes” (literally, “rising pair of eyes”) head Solomon’s list and describe eyes lifted up in arrogance. Similar to the modern expression, “looking down one’s nose,” haughty eyes define the attitude of the heart. David warned that God would humble those with arrogant eyes who imagined themselves as above others (see Ps. 18:27). Such haughtiness assaults the equal honor of each individual; however, it reflects a heightened arrogance before God. Jesus offered the reverse attitude of arrogance for His followers when He called them to be “poor in spirit” (see Matt. 5:3). Practicing humility will keep Jesus’ followers from thinking too highly of themselves.

A lying tongue” signifies a person who refuses to submit to the norms of right and wrong. Furthermore, he has no regard for truth and displays aggressive deceit intended to harm others. A believer will highlight the value of honesty and will hold the truth in high regard.

The Lord hates “hands that shed innocent blood,” a phrase that defines the violent tendency of the troublemaker and implies a profound lack of control over anger. Such a person might brutalize or even kill another driven by his covetous greed or over a presumed insult, whereas authentic believers will even sacrifice themselves to defend the helpless.

The heart resides at the center of the human anatomy and gives rise to all of a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual life. As the center point of Solomon’s catalogue of character traits which God abhors, “a heart that plots wicked schemes” would drive the evil action of the person. Solomon laced together three words, plots wicked schemes, to heighten the nature of the human heart’s propensity toward for evil. These words synergistically combine to communicate the use of an agitator’s ingenuity and strength in order to devise sinister plans for personal gain at another’s expense. Such a person will bend the rules when necessary to accomplish his goals regardless of the casualties. However, a person fully committed to Christ will have a heart that seeks to bring glory to the Lord through loving actions and ministry.

A troublemaker has “feet eager to run to evil,” which emphasizes his zeal and enthusiasm to follow his inner compulsion as soon as possible. The evildoer concocts schemes with a sense of urgency with no step spared, no second wasted, and no base left uncovered in executing the evil plot. Because a believer’s heart seeks to glorify Christ, his good works follow him.

Abandoning his analysis of evil through metaphorical comparisons to body parts, Solomon returned to the theme of lying. Specifically, “a lying witness” refers to one who consciously communicates falsehoods. At the foundation of all truth lies God’s complete holiness. He drilled down to the fuller meaning of the lying witness by adding that he gives false testimony. Solomon made it clear that the lying witness aims to threaten the life and/or property of someone. However, a believer will not remain silent but will speak up to defend the cause of Christ and those who face false accusations.

The “one who stirs up trouble among brothers,” like the scoundrel who works to undermine social and personal relationships for his own benefit (see 6:12-15), deliberately attempts to destroy the fellowship that holds a family together. The word, brothers, stands in contrast to a foreigner and denotes the full range of relationships from blood brothers to extended family members to fellow countrymen. Therefore, the one who stirs up trouble among brothers trashes the relationships that will spin a community and/or church into chaos and conflict. However, mature believers proactively work to right the relationships within a congregation that may be damaged because of the actions and words of others.

God has called us to demonstrate integrity as we live for Him. Though many people that we know and with whom we work live according to the seven negatives traits, we can choose to live otherwise. When we avoid these seven actions and traits, people will take note when we live as people of integrity.

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