I’ve been thinking a lot about what pleases God.
With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings…? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:6-8
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.Isaiah 66:2
Those verses come to mind often. But lately I have been struck by the importance of integrity in the life of a believer.
A few months ago I was sitting in a bible study at my brother’s house in Florida. The topic that night was 1 and 2 Samuel and of course, the life of David became a focal point. My brother emphasized that it was not David’s actions, but rather his integrity that distinguished him from the previous King (Saul). (He said in Psalm 101:2 “I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.”) David’s heart of integrity resulted in right actions and won him favor with God (and with men).
Most of us have read or at least heard about David’s fight with Goliath; we know that it was his faith in God that enabled him to defeat such a powerful and terrifying enemy. We have also heard about the many other victories that were granted to him because of his devotion to God. However, it is interesting that one of the most well-known stories of David’s life was his decision to commit adultery and murder; in other words, the man who was known for his integrity ended up living a life of deception.
Wow. That’s hard to swallow. How could a man who loved God so much find himself in such a situation? How could someone who had seen God move in such miraculous ways reject everything he had ever been commanded? I suppose those questions are easy to answer because most of us have stories of our own. We remember times where we yielded to temptation. Oh, we knew it was wrong. But we did it anyway.
There are many things to be gleaned from David’s story. Warnings of the consequences of our actions (read 1 and 2 Samuel to find out what happened later in David’s life) and promises of forgiveness, mercy, and the power of God to redeem and change a repentant heart.
I think the most important thing to be understood from the life of David is that a man or woman with a heart of integrity will never be shaken. Even if they fall a hundred times, they will always find their way back to the cross. This does not, of course, give anyone a license to sin! But it is worth considering: No matter how far or how long we have drifted away from God He will always forgive, cleanse, and change us if we honestly desire Him to be God of our lives.
Another important lesson is that God is not as interested in what we do or do not do but in who we are on the inside. Luke 11:39-42 says, And the Lord said to him:
Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Who we are on the inside will eventually show forth on the outside. There’s no way to avoid this. But even if (for a time) we find ourselves successful in doing everything “right” outwardly, if we have not allowed God to cleanse us of our independence, selfishness, greed, anger, resentment, pride, and everything else that is against His nature our “good works” will count for nothing.
My point is that while God knows our actions, He also knows our hearts. We are not fooling Him by putting on a “good front.” He knows everything. But what is so amazing is that even though He knows everything—the bad and the good—He still loves us. He loves us so much that He sends His Holy Spirit to say, “Hey, I’m here to change you. Just open up and be honest with Me. Stop lurking in the shadows, hoping no one will find out about your secret sin. Come to me and ask me to give you a new heart. An honest one. I will do it because I’m faithful.”
True love is not blind. It sees clearly, yet loves anyway. What an awesome God we serve!!
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”Psalm 15 ESV
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” Psalm 51 ESV