Call – Opelika-Auburn News
choice between integrity and compromising the truth
Daily we are all tempted to
compromise the truth. Yet the case can be made that compromise is not all bad. After
all, healthy relationships require compromise. And we all know that politically
compromise is the secret of the democratic process.
That is a persuasive argument. But
before we embrace it, let’s look at the meaning of the word “compromise.” One
meaning is “a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.”
That is good politics – so long as truth is not sacrificed.
If, however, our concessions tend to
weaken our morality, then we are probably compromising with the devil. The Evil
One uses such compromise to lead us gradually away from the practice of
One virtue of the Bible’s Job is his
unwillingness, despite his suffering and the coercion of his friends, to
compromise his faith. He refused to commit evil by telling lies. Truth was important
to him. He recognized that he was accountable to God. He believed God had
created him and that one day he would have to answer to God for his conduct.
Integrity was more important than
life to Job. Here is how he explained this to one of his friends: “But for as long as I draw
breath, and for as long as God breathes life into me, I refuse to say one word
that isn't true. I refuse to confess to any charge that's false. There is no way I'll ever agree to your
accusations. I'll not deny my integrity even if it costs me my life. I'm
holding fast to my integrity and not loosening my grip—and, believe me, I'll
never regret it.”
this just biblical talk or is it possible to live in today’s world with such
integrity? I believe it not only possible; I believe I have known people who
have valued integrity as much as Job did.
My friend Frank Pierce was a “body”
man. He fixed wrecked cars. Years ago it was rather easy to cheat on the repair
of a car. The scheme involved repairing a car for one price and charging the
insurance company a higher price. The paint and body technician would agree to
split the difference with the car owner.
My admiration for Frank grew
enormously when he shared with me that he had lost a lot of business to other
body shops because he would not agree to such deceit. Frank never made a lot of
money; he never lived in a fancy home. However, when he died, his family and
his friends knew that an honest man, who honored Christ in his work, had gone
to be with the Lord. Frank’s integrity was not for sale!
Job’s integrity was not for sale
either. He vowed that lies would not fall from his tongue, no matter what. He
insists that he will not betray his Maker. After all, God made him, and God
gave him breath. So he declares that even with his last breath, he will honor
his Creator by being truthful.
Such a determined attitude reminds
us of Methodism’s John Wesley who wished with his last breath to offer praise
to God. We know that some people die with profanity on their lips, their final
breath used for cursing, sometimes even cursing God. Wesley was praising God
when he drew his last breath.
I have witnessed such a death scene.
I was present in the hospital room where a godly woman was dying. As her family
listened to her faltering speech, she began singing the Doxology – “Praise God
from whom all blessings flow….” We
joined with her and wept as, with her last breath she sang “Amen” as the song
and her life concluded.
Job was willing for God to examine
his conduct. He was sure that he had not been guilty of hypocrisy. Most of us
are not willing to go that far. We know how easy it is to make promises to God
in church, then surrender them in the heat of everyday conflicts in ordinary
living. If gossip is a story told about someone we dislike, we are tempted to
repeat the story, even embellishing it. While it is difficult to let gossip die
with us, we can “kill” it by refusing to repeat it. We all know the sick
feeling that rises within us when we tell a story we should not have repeated.
Job was so sure of his own
righteousness that he could ask God for justice. His walk with the Lord was
honest and true, without any hypocrisy. We know that is not true of ourselves.
We must cry for mercy, not justice. We know that despite our best efforts our
walk with the Lord has not been perfect. We are more comfortable praying with
David, “Have mercy on me, O God,” than we are in praying with Job. We know we
have sinned “and come short of the glory of God.”
Job, on the other hand, was
guiltless, at least in his own mind, and free even of the sin of idolatry. Here
again, we are all nailed by idolatry, the sin of loving any “thing” more than
we love God. Whatever is more important to us than God is an idol. God insists,
remember, that “no other gods” be put before Him!
Our idols can be many things.
Hunting or golf can become idols for women as well as men. One man insisted
that the Sunday worship services end promptly at
We know the inward turmoil that
comes from “wanting everything” while also wanting to be genuine Christians.
Materialism is like an octopus, its slimy tentacles always tightening their
grip on us. We really want to serve God but we also want what everyone else
has, often long before we can afford it. Finally, we must realize and admit
that integrity has its price for us, as it did for Job.
We can be thankful for the advantage
we have over Job. When people falsely accuse us, as Job’s friends accused him,
we can ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to respond to our accusers in love. We
can confess our sins and know the inward joy of receiving God’s gracious
forgiveness. We can trust the Holy Spirit to teach us the answers to hard
questions. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to help us honor Christ in daily
living rather than yield to temptation.
We can walk in the light, holding
the hand of the One who is the light of the world, and avoid stumbling
pitifully in the darkness of rebellion. We can know, with greater certainty
than Job had, that our Savior will never leave us.
As the songwriter put it, we can
“walk with the Lord in the light of his Word.”
sing in daily life, “What a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good
will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.” We can
know a joy that Job could not know because we live on this side of the
Resurrection. Hallelujah! + + +