INTEGRITY
Sunday, June 11, 2017
  Ezra 1-2 | John 19:23-42

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” —2 Corinthians 1:21-22

It can be very distressing and discouraging to have our motives misunderstood, but to be accused of a hidden agenda can be extremely disheartening and painful. Leaders in the Corinthian church were not only trying to expose Paul as a false apostle, but were accusing him of having a personal agenda.

When trying to discredit someone, it is usually much more effective to attack, not merely the work, but the person. When accusing someone of a hidden agenda, the accuser normally feels at liberty to say what that hidden agenda is. In Paul’s case, they made the assumption it was simply to promote himself, but nevertheless false allegations gain traction and consequently, character is held under scrutiny and credibility questioned.

In Paul’s response to the church, he explains why they should trust him. He says, “Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace” (2 Corinthians 1:12). The thrust of Paul’s statement is that his integrity is not based on secular views or worldly wisdom, but is solely a consequence of his dependence on God.

The moral qualities seen in God are the qualities that Paul’s accusers can expect to see in him, because his dependence on God means he is not operating by human skill or wisdom, but out of the activity of Christ within him. By challenging Paul’s motives, the church was also challenging Christ’s motives. Conversely, whatever they might praise and credit Paul for would be praise and credit due Christ, as it was the very life of Christ Himself operating in and through Paul.

The Christian life is not trying to be like Christ, but allowing Christ to be Himself in us. The result is that the characteristics we display will exhibit the character of Christ. We know from Paul’s writings that the human nature is bankrupt. He says, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:18). In other words, we do not put confidence in the flesh, because we are incapable of living the Christian life by our own abilities and disciplines. Living the Christian life is supernatural in its source, derived from God. The default position of living in Christ is that we act with honesty and integrity. It is a holiness and righteousness received from God, and if we are conducting ourselves in this way, then like Paul, standing firm in Christ is the only defence we need.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me from being taken in by ?worldly wisdom. Grant me a life that displays honesty and integrity that is firmly rooted in You. Thank You, Lord.


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