Singleness of the Heart (Proverbs 11:3)
Some mistakenly associate the word integrity only with reputation—an external appearance. True integrity is a quality of character—an inward reality that refers to singleness of heart or mind, the development of a blameless character by adhering to an exemplary moral code. The Biblical model of integrity is marked by several distinct features:
- innocent actions (Ge 20:5);
- a clear conscience (Ac 24:16; Heb 13:18);
- fear of God, truthfulness and opposition to covetousness (Ex 18:21);
- blamelessness and uprightness (Job 2:3; Ps 25:21);
- righteousness (Ps 7:8);
- freedom from that which is shameful, crafty or deceitful (2Co 4:2);
- refusal to serve idols (Ps 24:3–5);
- disassociation with evildoers (Ps 26:4);
- honorable behavior (2Co 8:21; 1Pe 2:12).
The Hebrews understood that:
- integrity of heart guides a person into right and rewarding situations (Pr 11:3);
- integrity is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Pr 21:3); and
- a person’s integrity silences critics (1Pe 2:13–17).
Integrity provides a mindset toward righteousness and an abiding intent to do the will of God and to walk in his ways.
Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible
What Is Meekness?
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
Meekness begins when we put our trust in God. Then, because we trust him, we commit our way to him. We roll onto him our anxieties, or frustrations, our plans, our relationships, our jobs, our health.
And then we wait patiently for the Lord. We trust his timing and his power and his grace to work things out in the best way for his glory and for our good.
The result of trusting God and the rolling of our anxieties onto God and waiting patiently for God is that we don’t give way to quick and fretful anger. But instead, we give place to wrath and hand our cause over to God and let him vindicate us if he chooses.
And then, as James says, in this quiet confidence we are slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). We become reasonable and open to correction.
Meekness loves to learn. And it counts the blows of a friend as precious. And when it must say a critical word to a person caught in sin or error, it speaks from the deep conviction of its own fallibility and its own susceptibility to sin and its utter dependence on the grace of God.
The quietness and openness and vulnerability of meekness is a very beautiful and a very painful thing. It goes against all that we are by our sinful nature. It requires supernatural help.
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, that is, if you trust him and commit your way to him and wait patiently for him, God has already begun to help you and will help you more.
And the primary way that he will help you is to assure your heart that you are a fellow heir of Jesus Christ and that the world and everything in it is yours.
Jacob and his family move from place to place in Canaan, finally arriving in Bethel, where God had first appeared to him.
Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, saying, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel.
God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which means “one who struggles with God” (see Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trials, but his new name reflected his desire to stay close to God despite life’s disappointments.
Many people believe that Jesus promises a problem-free life. Consequently, as life gets tough, they become disappointed and retreat from faith in God. Has God failed?
Jesus actually warned his followers that they would face hard times: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” But Jesus offered them hope, too: “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Instead of hoping for a problem-free life, followers of Jesus should hold on to God through life’s struggles. Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable. Perhaps, as in Jacob’s case, they are actually struggles with God. These can be opportunities for growth. Troubles give us a chance to trust God. They are opportunities for faith. They are opportunities for God to work in your life.
What struggles are you facing today? If life is going well, how are you deepening your trust in God for when life brings new challenges? Whether life is easy or hard, how can you hold on to God?
Streams in the Desert – May 16
Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days (Dan. 10:12, 13).
We have wonderful teaching here on prayer, and we are shown the direct hindrance from Satan.
Daniel had fasted and prayed twenty-one days, and had a very hard time in prayer. As far as we read the narrative, it was not because Daniel was not a good man, nor because his prayer was not right; but it was because of a special attack of Satan.
The Lord started a messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment Daniel began to pray; but an evil angel met the good angel and wrestled with him, hindering him. There was a conflict in the heavens; and Daniel seemed to go through an agony on earth the same as that which was going on in the heavens.
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers… against wicked spirits in high places” (Eph. 6:12, margin).
Satan delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel nearly succumbed, and Satan would have been glad to kill him; but God will not suffer anything to come above that we “are able to bear.”
Many a Christian’s prayer is hindered by Satan; but you need not fear when your prayers and faith pile up; for after a while they will be like a flood, and will not only sweep the answer through, but will also bring some new accompanying blessing.
Hell does its worst with the saints. The rarest souls have been tested with high pressures and temperatures, but Heaven will not desert them.
–W. L. Watkinson