Psalm 101- 1 I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing.
This Psalm has everything to do with leadership and everything to do with being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. David had become the King of Israel and this Psalm almost sounds like an inaugural address or like something he would have said as he raised his right hand and took office. David had made his mind up that he was going to be a certain kind of man and a certain kind of leader, and he wanted it to be known how he planned to live that out in his personal life as well as in the way he would rule as the King. We’ll see in this Psalm that David planned to live and lead the same way. He was going to have integrity at home as well as in the way he carried on the affairs of the kingdom.
If you look up the definition of integrity, you’ll see words like “moral” and “honest,” but you’ll also find this phrase, “having a state of wholeness.” You see, having integrity means that we live in such as state that our lives have a sense of wholeness. Our lives demonstrate a well being that comes from not having compromise in any areas of our lives.
You’ll remember that after the Titanic was examined, it was discovered that it wasn’t a large gouging hole in the side of the huge ocean liner that caused it to sink and result in the loss of many lives. Rather, while recovering the ship divers found six relatively narrow slits across the six watertight holds that resulted in the ship sinking and 1500 people dying. “Small damage, invisible to most, can sink not only a great ship but a great reputation.” (sermonillustrations.com)
We’ve talked recently about spiritual warfare and the necessity to be proactive in pleading the blood of Jesus over our lives, families, futures, jobs, possessions and health. In addition, this past Wednesday we talked about the spiritual armor we need to wear according to Ephesians 6. There Paul outlines how important each piece of the armor is and how we need to put it on and use it every day. Why is it so necessary that we are dressed for battle and how what does that have to do with integrity?
Satan is super cunning. He won’t come to you with a big idea for you to do something scandalous, outlandish or immoral. No, not at first. He’ll look for little inroads, small compromises, a way to create a small crack in your integrity and before you know it, your life becomes like a sinking ship. It’s overwhelming and you wonder, “How did I get here?”
In the movie, the Emperor’s Club Professor Hundert confronted a corrupted former student who he caught cheating to get ahead. He had paid another student to feed him the answers.
They were at a black tie event for the former student’s political campaign and they met in the bathroom. Mr. Hundert who had just learned about his former student’s conduct said to him, “I will give you one last lecture. All of us at some point are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror and see who we really are and when that day comes of you, you will be confronted with a life lived without virtue, without principle, and for that I pity you. End of lesson.”
The student turned political candidate said, “What can I say to you, Mr. Hundert? Who gives a rip about your principles and your virtues? Look at you. What do you have to show for yourself? I live in the real world where people do what they need to do to get what they want, and if it’s lying and cheating, so be it. So I am going to go out there and I am going to win that election Mr. Hundert and you will see me everywhere, and I will worry about my contribution later.”
You then hear a toilet flush and out from the stall emerges the man’s son who has just listened to a father who lacked integrity say he could worry about his contribution later. The boy left the restroom with his head hung low without saying a word. His hero, his father, was no longer held in his esteem.
It takes twenty years to build a reputation but only a few minutes to destroy it! You can’t put off being truthful until later. You can’t put off being disciplined and diligent until later. You can’t put off doing what you have said you will do until later. You can’t put off doing the right thing until later. You can’t put off being a good role model until later. You are always “on” when it comes to integrity because there is always someone who is watching.
God saw something in David’s character that He liked. He saw integrity which would make him a good king. We read in Psalm 78:70-72 “70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; 71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. 72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
David was a diligent shepherd. He showed up for work. He took it seriously. Whatever a person has to do in order to become a skilled sheepherder, David did it. He became excellent in what he did. He had the sheep’s interests and needs in the forefront of his mind. Did you know you could lead sheep with integrity? The Bible says so.
Sheep can’t talk. They can’t tell on the shepherd if he isn’t a good one. David spent time alone with the sheep, no doubt, without other people being around and yet God says he was still on the job. He didn’t slack off. He didn’t lose focus. He was diligent to do, with skill, what a shepherd should do for his sheep. And he brought that same mentality to the palace when he was made king. After all, he would be a mentor to the whole kingdom. They would be looking to the king to model the kind of life they also needed to choose as God’s people.
I see some principles regarding integrity that are spelled out in this Psalm. If we will pay attention to them, they will help us be people who maintain integrity with God and others as well:
People with integrity embrace God totally. Look at verses one and two again: “I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me?” David sang of God’s love AND His justice.
When was the last time you sang a song about God’s love? Hardly a Sunday goes by that we don’t sing about God’s love. “Think About His Love,” “Love Lifted Me,” “O How He Loves You and Me,” “Amazing Love”-I could go on for quite some time listing title after title about the love of God. We love to sing about God’s love. From the time we were rocked in the nursery and some saint sang “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” over us, we were delighted to know about God’s love.
But when was the last time you sang about God’s justice? When was the last time you sang about God’s discipline? When was the last time you sang about God’s convicting power at work in your life? We need to be thankful that God treats us completely as His children. We need to be grateful that the convicting work of the Holy Spirit points out when we have sinned or when we are headed into dangerous territory. There is no correction without conviction and I think you’ll agree that it’s not on our radar to convict ourselves. We need the ongoing work of the Spirit in our lives to keep us from destruction.
David appreciated the accountability God’s justice brought to his life. Yes, we are safe in the love of God, but God’s unconditional love doesn’t give us license to live just any old way we please. His justice will demand an account for the way we spend our time, talents, and treasures. His justice will ask what we did with our free time and what happened behind closed doors. That knowledge of God’s justice ought to keep us desiring to be the people of integrity, morality and holiness that God desires.
If God wasn’t just, if there was no accountability for the way we live, we wouldn’t be as apt to choose a life of integrity and the consequences would be dire. Proverbs 11:3 says, The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Thank God that He is love, but thank and praise Him that He is also just. The reminder of His justice keeps us on the right path so that we are not destroyed by living a life of duplicity.
Did you see the question in verse two? David asked, “When will you come to me?” He embraced not only who God was, but he also embraced God through relationship. It’s not just that He respected God’s love and justice from afar, but he desired to be with God and to be close to him. David knew the presence of God in his life would make a difference, so he longed for the presence of God.
I’m going to make a bold statement. I know that will shock you all—that I would say something that might ruffle some feathers. Here it is: “You can’t have true integrity apart from a relationship with God.”
Integrity involves knowing what is moral, what is right and choosing that. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. In creating us in His image, He has given us a capacity to make moral distinctions. However, we are fallen people. We’re born sinners. We’re born messed up and marred by sin. We don’t see things clearly. Our understanding is clouded by our desire to look out for ourselves and do what feels good to us.
Romans 7:15 begins, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.
Have I made my point? Even if we think we know what is right, apart from God, we we’ll struggle to choose doing right all the time. Only as we let God deal with the sin problem in our lives and clear our clouded minds with His truth will we know for sure what is right and have the power to resist temptation to do the wrong thing.
(See a great article by Ray Cotton- http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/god-ethi.html)
Proverbs 13:6 says, “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.” We are being told that the man of integrity is kept straight by God. David knew it. That’s why he embraced God totally through relationship. His life would have to be saturated by God’s presence if he was going to live a life of integrity.
People with integrity not only embrace God totally, but they also live their private lives carefully. David said, “I will walk in my house with blameless heart.
David expressed a resolve to have integrity even when he was behind closed doors in his house. He was going to guard his heart at home.
We all have places in our lives that resemble David’s house, places where we think since we’re alone and the shades are drawn that it doesn’t matter. That trip out of town where you think “No one will know me, so I can stray a bit” or the time after hours at work when everyone else has gone home or when everyone else has gone to bed. Have you ever thought, “What I do in the privacy of my home is no one else’s business?” These thoughts are so pervasive in our culture. How about the phrase, “What happens in Vegas . . .?” (Stays in Vegas) The idea that we can pick and choose when to have integrity and think that somehow our overall integrity can still be maintained is faulty thinking.
In his book Lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein II pointed out: “A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty . . . taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue’s head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady’s coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms, and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay.” (Oscar Hammerstein II, Lyrics)
The top of the head of the Statue of Liberty would have been the place the artist could have easily been tempted to slack off, to compromise, could have been tempted to leave it undone thinking no one would see it. Nowadays people pass over the statue’s head every day.
Be assured God sees everything we do whether we think anyone else will ever see it or not. Living with integrity means you take as much care in the details of your life in order that if someone was to inspect your decisions, your free time, your spending, your Facebook chat, your internet sites, your vacation destination, your relationships, your work-that they would find that your integrity was still intact and that you lived without compromise in every area of your life, even the ones you thought were private. Integrity is only integrity if it is intact behind closed doors where no one else sees.
Several years ago, in Long Beach, California, a fellow went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young woman at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day-a whole bag of cash instead of fried chicken. After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken–over $800!
The man didn’t skip a beat. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. By that point the manager had gotten frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, “I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here.” Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, “Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You’re the most honest man I’ve heard of.” To which they guy quickly responded, “Oh no, no, don’t do that!” Then he leaned closer and whispered, “You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife.” He may have returned some cash, but he wasn’t a man of integrity. Because people of integrity don’t pick and choose when they will be holy.
People of integrity embrace God totally, they live their private lives carefully, and they focus their sight intentionally.
David recognized something profound, “What we look at will determine what we walk into.” He said in verse 3, I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”
Obviously we can’t always control what we see, but we certainly don’t have to bring it into our homes or line of sight on purpose. One proverb says, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hat!”
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in
regard to its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14) We need to make the commitment that says I won’t look at that which is evil or that which will tempt our flesh.
The longer we let our eyes linger on that which will tempt us, the more likely we are to compromise our integrity. Don’t set yourself up for the possibility that you’ll create a slit in your integrity by looking at things that are contrary to God’s will for your life. I’m not just talking about pornography, although if there is any doubt, let me say pornography is a sin and will sabotage any chance you have for a committed, loving, productive and healthy long-term relationship with your spouse now or down the road. And looking can lead to living in a way that will ruin your life. So, “Be careful little eyes what you see” isn’t just a song for the little children to sing, but it’s a song we ought to be practicing in our own lives.
I think we can also say that in order to maintain integrity we need to be careful what we have set out in front of us as a goal. What are we focused on? What have we fixed our attention on attaining? For example, if our focus, our sight is set on acquiring as many material possessions as we can, we can very easily lose integrity along the way. Either we’ll take immoral short cuts to get there or the time involved in doing so will compromise our commitment to spend time with God and to be a regular part of worship or it will compromise time with our families and other significant relationships and we’ll lose far more than we could ever gain in material wealth.
Or if our focus is on being well-liked or popular, we’ll be so busy working on our image and looks and manipulating people in order to be “where the party is happening” that we’ll be distracted from being focused on the things that will really set us up for success like pursuing God and focusing on our education, our relationships, or our health.
People of integrity embrace God totally, they live their private lives carefully, they focus their sight intentionally, and hate sin passionately. If it looks like sin or smells like sin, people of integrity want nothing to do with it. We need to despise and hate sin as passionately as we love God.
Joyce Meyer, in one of her books, highlights one reason Christians continue to sin. She says it’s simply that we don’t hate it like God does. If we did, we would have a complete disdain and hatred for sin. We wouldn’t want to have anything to do with it.
In the second half of Psalm 101 David made some pretty definitive statements. In regards to evil and sinful alliances with people he said things like:
I will not look at
I will hate
I will have no part of
I will have nothing to do with
I will put to silence
At the onset of his reign he had a “no tolerance” policy for sin and anything that could lead him down that path. Christians, it’s time we commit to a “no tolerance” policy when it comes to sin. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.” We need to run from sin and run as far in the other direction as possible.
(The following is excerpted from a sermon by Andy Neckar at Community Bible Chapel. Hico, Texas- http://cnview.com/text_sermons/i_hate_sin.htm)
I hate sin. Sin ain’t no good for nothing. Sin don’t do nothing, but ruin everything. Sin is rotten. I hate it. I hate it in me and I hate it in others.
Sin don’t do nobody no good. It is because of sin we have to work hard for a living. It is because of sin that a woman has pain in childbirth. It is because of sin that much of the world is in poverty and people go hungry. It is because of sin that we suffer depression, anxiety and fear, and guilt and remorse. It is because of sin that we get sick. It is because of sin that we get tired. It is because of sin that we get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Sin ain’t no good for nothing. It takes away our innocence. It takes away the beauty of the natural born character. It makes us rotten inside and out. It makes us sorry and no good. It turns lovable babies into monsters. We become like sin. We become sin itself. Sin makes us good for nothing. What is good about burning in hell forever?
The bottom line is we will never stop sinning if we don’t absolutely hate sin.
Now somewhere along the way, David lost his moral footing. He lost sight of his goal to have a blameless heart and lead a blameless life. He let his eyes linger longer than he should have and he gave in to temptation with Bathsheba and had an affair. She got pregnant and later David wound up committing murder as he had her husband put to death. One extended glance led to another bad choice and another and another. The man who said “I will not” found himself in the arms of sin. Yet, in spite of his failures to maintain his integrity perfectly, God nicknamed David the man after God’s own heart. (I Samuel 13:14)
Why? Because when the Spirit of God convicted Him of his sin and the consequences of his sin revealed how much he had compromised the very thing he vowed to do, he was heartbroken. Listen to me, God can work with people who will still be heartbroken over sin. David’s emotional confession is found in Psalm 51. He brought every failure and broken piece to God. He lifted up the mess of his life and begged God for forgiveness. When he did, God restored him, integrity and all. Why? Because even though his life strayed, because he had conditioned his heart to hate sin, when it was revealed to him what he had done and how it had hurt the heart of God, he repented and returned to God with his whole heart and life. And God restored him. Integrity and all.
Are you totally embracing God? I didn’t ask, “Are you coming to church on Sunday mornings.” I said, “Are you totally embracing God?” Are you as passionate about His justice as you are His love? As you evaluate your heart and life, how committed are you to leading a blameless life behind closed doors as well as in public? How blameless is your heart and life? Are there some things you need to confess? Are there some temptations you need to share with someone so that they can hold you accountable? Are you seeking God’s presence in your daily life in order to safeguard your life against evil? Are you as far away from evil as possible? Have you decided to have a “no tolerance” policy for sin?
Dads and moms, maybe it’s time for a family meeting. Maybe you need to talk with your kids about some things that need to change. Perhaps it’s TV viewing or the choice of movies you are exposing yourself to. Maybe you need to tell your spouse and kids you are sorry about some things and that you are making some changes in order to lead a blameless life. Maybe it’s a habit or lifestyle that doesn’t glorify God and doesn’t set a good example for those under your influence. Do an integrity check right now. Has there been any compromise this past year, month, or week? Did all of the activities of this weekend glorify God? Did the water cooler conversations at work glorify God? Did your Facebook posts glorify God?
Will you come to an integrity challenge and come to an altar of prayer this morning to pray the prayer David prayed in Psalm 101? Will you come and say to God: “I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. 3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing.”