There’s something about a baby’s first steps that holds the promise of a brave new world. But how are walking and character connected?
If you’ve ever raised an infant, seeing them take their first steps is a moment you’ll never forget.
It doesn’t happen all at once of course. No baby has ever just said to themselves, “Gosh, I notice the perambulation of the adults in my proximity via an effective peripatetic motion. I believe I’ll do that now.” No, learning to walk involves the development of many skills. Proper muscle strength, coordination, balance all come into play. Learning to walk is a process that requires the development of several skills in order to do it well.
Which brings us to today’s verse: THE GODLY WALK WITH INTEGRITY
Babies never learn to walk in the womb. New birth brings the need for new skills. What is true with the flesh is also true in the spirit. Before you are born again, you’ve not got much use for an awareness of God’s word or His standards of character and conduct. But that all changes after you’ve given your life to Him .
Don’t confuse character and conduct. Unless good conduct is founded in excellent character it cannot be relied upon. Conduct is only the way you choose to act around others. Many a con man has wormed their way into the trust of their victim with good conduct. Most people can put up a good front for short periods of time when necessary, if they choose to do so. Character, on the other hand, will guide and control conduct over the long term. Developing a godly character will impact your actions – both in public and in private. The truest test of character is who you are when no one but God is watching.
THE GODLY WALK WITH INTEGRITY
Learning to walk with integrity requires many of the same skills as learning to walk as a child. Strength, coordination and balance all come into play.
It takes strength of character to be a person of integrity. The opportunities and invitations to do otherwise are all around us. But letting integrity guide you is a preservative factor; whoever walks in integrity can walk securely. It has been said that liars need good memories, because it can be very difficult to keep track of all the things you’ve made up. But when you walk in integrity all you need to remember is the truth.
Coordinating your actions so they line up with God’s word will build upon your strength of character, and develop more of it. The bible teaches us that whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. Of course the ones who walk in integrity get “found out” as well; but with a better reputation! For better or worse, you’re building a reputation – who you are will become known.
Keeping balanced is an essential element to walking so you don’t fall. Balancing worldly things like temper and temptation with godly integrity will continue to build on skills and strengths you’ve developed. The interesting thing is that, no matter how long you’ve been walking, you never reach the point where losing your balance and falling isn’t a possibility. There’s a trick to maintaining balance. Here it is.
Some time ago my wife Pat and I attended a formal event that required her to wear high heels. At one point as we walked along, something on the walkway caused her to lose her balance. But she and I were walking arm in arm, so she was able to steady herself easily. What could have been disastrous was a non-event, because she wasn’t walking alone. Good accountability relationships can help you avert potential disasters and save you a great deal of embarrassment.
Be deliberate about building a relationship with someone who loves God and knows His word well. Then be even MORE deliberate about listening to what that person says to you. Their greatest value will be when they see things differently from you. That’s the nature of the problem – we all have blind spots. It’s the obstacles we don’t see that are most likely to send us tumbling. Integrity and accountability walk arm in arm. It’s much more fun than walking alone, and sooner or later it will prove valuable.
The first psalm tells us about several other benefits of walking integrity. It makes you like a tree planted by streams of water. Strong roots and plenteous nutrients make you fruitful and deliver endurance under trials. God Himself blesses the work of your hands, and in all that the person of integrity does, he prospers.
Some people have climbed mountains or walked on the moon. But people with integrity walk with God; and that’s MUCH more significant.
By the way, this morning the Lord impressed upon me to take this earlier message from last year, do some editing, and upload the recording. I don’t know if YOU needed to be reminded of this, but I evidently did!