Gilland: Finding integrity when no one is watching

These are days when the actions and directives of national leaders are on the minds of everyone, but this is not a new pastime. In fact, I have been reading through the books of 1st and 2nd Kings, and it has been interesting to see about how each one led, what their priorities were, and what they tolerated.

You see, you and I actually share an important trait with these ancient kings of Israel. We are all capable of tolerating something that is forbidden.

This is seen and discussed in the pages of the Bible, where the bios of each king would be given, and in many of these descriptions, such phrases as “he walked in the way of the kings of Israel,” or “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (see 2 Kings 8).

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Some of the kings obeyed the law of the Lord, at least partially, but failed by “tolerating” other aspects of wickedness that God, described in the writings of Moses and passed down to succeeding generations, had strictly forbidden. Such actions as allowing “high places” or other idols to other gods to remain would often prove to be their undoing.

It is easy to look at a world leader who is tolerating a wrong, something that is seems unwise or is against what we deem to be “common sense.”

What is harder to do is to recognize that same condition in our own lives. And that may well explain the ultimate fault of those ancient kings: They simply overlooked what they knew to be wrong and let that evil thing linger.

A number of years ago, two very talented singers that I deeply respect recorded a song together. Their collaboration was in itself unique as they both approached Christian music from different genres.

One was Steven Curtis Chapman, known for his strong pop ballads and contemporary music that occasionally had touches of country.

The other artist was DC Talk, led by TobyMac, whose music was more urban and hip-hop in style.

Their song recorded together carried both the truth and what would have been guiding counsel to those early Kings in the Bible. The song was entitled “Go to B Tru,” and is on Chapman’s “Great Adventure” album.

One of the memorable lines in the lyrics points us to the need at hand: We’ve got to be true when “nobody but Jesus is watching you.”

And that is the secret to true integrity. Not just doing what is right when the world is watching. It is obedience in the secret place, when we are all alone, when no other eyes but God’s are on us.

If we were to stop tolerating what is wrong in that moment, we would be much more successful in walking after the ways of God that have been passed down to us in His Word, the Bible.

My grandson was with us on Saturday, and at breakfast I asked him if he would like to pray and give thanks for our food. He quickly and cheerfully launched into an amazing prayer for a 4-year-old.

He ended it with this phrase: “And help us obey You, and not the devil.” I was amazed, as I had already started this column. The wisdom given in that simple phrase is all we need to be true, when nobody but Jesus is watching.

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