Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 1 May 21:
1 Samuel 12:3, 4 — “Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you. They said, ‘You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.’”
Samuel lived a blameless life with no debts and no secrets, always willing to confess his sins publicly and always willing to make full restitution. This is the sort of person God uses mightily. Samuel understood that the way he lived his life before others affected his ability to perform his primary mission as God’s messenger. Samuel lived with such integrity, that he could confidently stand before everyone and challenge them to name any wrongs he might have committed. Do you live confidently with such personal integrity?
- Psalm 25:21 — May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
- Psalm 26:1 — Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
- Psalm 101:2 — I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house….
- Proverbs 10:9 — Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
- Proverbs 11:3 — The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
- Proverbs 19:1 — Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
- Proverbs 20:7 — The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!
- Proverbs 28:6 — Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.
- Proverbs 28:18 — Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.
- Titus 2:7 — Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity….
Integrity, living true, requires complete humility, striving to live lives which honor the Sovereign Lord and which place the benefit of others above our own selfish desires, while continually admitting and correcting our errors (sins) to the best of our abilities; using private, prayerful confession as our opportunity to reset our hearts to the Lord and to rest in the efficiency of His grace, while also using public confession as a way to remain humble, seek reconciliation, restitution, and restoration, and to proclaim our dependence on grace and our hope in the Gospel.
“Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” Samuel also adhered to God’s command to make restitution to anyone you have wronged (see Exodus 22, Leviticus 5, Numbers 5). The principle of restitution is something that has largely been forgotten in the modern church, but Proverbs 14:9 says only “fools mock at making restitution.” To whom do you need to make restitution today?
1 Samuel 12:23 — “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.”
Also, Samuel prayed for sinful people and was willing to go through the difficult process of instructing them for their benefit and reconciliation, but he prioritized prayer first. Many are ready to instruct, but few are willing to pray. When we instruct, we are tempted to think that our abilities will make the difference. Prayer acknowledges that it is the Spirit which must affect the change in a person. Prayer also reminds us that it is never about us; we are merely instruments used by God for His glory to bring others closer to Him. Prayer gets the heart right before engaging the mouth. Careless words are never helpful. Guaranteed, when you earnestly pray first for the person you feel compelled to confront, it will not only change how you see them and how you engage them, it will keep you receptive to the counsel and movement of the Holy Spirit. Remember, only God can convict and change a person’s heart, not you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 May 21: If you have not done so already, make a list of your family, church members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for whom you should pray. Pray for them by name today — “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you (1 Samuel 12:23).” Also, make every effort to settle your debts today. If you have offended someone, seek forgiveness from them today and reconcile. Return what you have borrowed, repay what you have taken, and as much as possible, fix what you have broken. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” (Romans 13:8) You may not be able to do it all today, but at least make the commitment and take the first steps.