Leading Question: Does moral integrity affect our physical health?
The Bible is full of examples of those who have stood firm, maintaining their integrity. It also provides us with a host of examples of those who compromised their integrity, often with catastrophic consequences.
1. Jesus stands firm: Is he our example (Mat 4:1-11)? If we try to put ourselves in Jesus’ sandals, how would we react to each of these challenges to “integrity”?
- Turn stones into bread (Mat 4:3-4). None of us has the ability to turn stones into bread. We wouldn’t even try. But Jesus had just come from his baptism and had heard the affirming voice from heaven. He had the ability to turn stones into bread. Would he perform a miracle on his own behalf?
- Throw yourself down (Mat 4:5-6). This would have been a more daring temptation. Who would entrust their own fate to an “angel”? Jesus flatly refused.
- Worship me! (Mat 4:8-9). Would any of us be tempted by the Devil if he offered us the whole world?
2. In what way would these temptations be adapted to our weaknesses? To what extent was Jesus tempted far beyond anything that we might have to face?
3. Good examples of integrity in action:
- Gen 39:6-12: Joseph and Potipher’s wife. What enabled Joseph to react with horror at a temptation that must have been quite alluring to his physical nature? In a world where we are constantly bombarded with sexual temptation, how can we maintain our moral integrity?
- 1 Sam 24:1-10: David refuses to attack Saul. David showed remarkable restraint in refusing to lay a hand on Saul. What made the difference. David refused to touch Saul, but was quite willing to sacrifice Uriah the Hittite.
- Daniel 6:1-10: Daniel continues to worship publicly. Daniel’s example of continuing with his public worship habits contrasts sharply with Esther’s choice of concealing her life of faith – until the very last minute. How does one determine whether a public display is appropriate and helpful? To keep silent as Esther did can serve God’s purposes. But does it represent a loss of integrity on the part of the one who keeps silent?
What practical steps can we take to ensure that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2)? This passage from the pen of Paul can be looked at from both sides of the question: How does one preserve and enhance one’s integrity through the renewing of the mind? And what are the negative consequences when we fall short of the mark? Is guilt (and guilt feelings) something that is universally experienced? Or does it vary from person to person? Is it possible for guilt or the prospect of incurring guilt to be a positive force in the life of the Christian? In short, does guilt keep us out of trouble?