April 2, 2014| 0

Integrity is a Long Walk (Psalm 26:1)

Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

We can’t walk in two directions at the same time. That’s why the proverbial “fork in the road” serves as a metaphor for life’s important decisions. We have to choose a direction and walk in it. As Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

The Psalms and Proverbs speak nine times of “walking in integrity,” and Psalm 26 is essentially a prayer reflecting on the meaning of integrity. [1]  It's a bold prayer in which the psalmist boasts of faithfulness, truthfulness, innocence, and good deeds before closing with an appeal for God’s redeeming power and grace:

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord. [vv. 11, 12]

We know we are saved by God’s grace and not by our good deeds or integrity. Nonetheless, a righteous passion for God produces integrity of character, and this is cause for boasting. “Integrity” is the biblical term describing the habits of a heart dedicated to blessing the Lord. While the motives of the heart cannot be seen, they become visible by “the walk” they inspire, and lifelong steps of faith flow from a pure heart. Eugene Peterson wrote of this in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, as did Kierkegaard in his tome on ethical integrity, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.

Integrity is a long walk in the right direction. Integrity is not achieved in a single heroic feat or smashing victory, but in the accumulation of countless steps. Integrity is the unwavering, lifelong walk powered by a heart that wills one thing—to be a living, breathing, daily blessing in the eyes of the Lord. Integrity is the long walk of obedience inspired by love.

Just as a long journey is comprised of small steps, integrity consists of the countless decisions made in the face of opportunities to waver or stray off course. In business terms, integrity is a deal negotiated for the sake of the common good; a promise held in spite of loopholes; a product recalled at the manufacturer's expense. To act with integrity is to be single-minded in the pursuit of God’s purposes, and to trust God to save and redeem the steps we take as expressions of our desire to bless him.

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[1] The Old Testament Hebrew word is תֹּם (pronounced like “tome”).

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© Bruce D. Baker, 2014

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