“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Prov. 11:3
Life is stormy sometimes. How is that for a gross understatement? The seas of life get choppy, though. It could be an illness, a job loss, the death of a loved one, a secret addiction, a difficult marriage.
There are numerous things in life that can create waves. So, what is the anchor that will keep us from being capsized in these storms? How can we weather the storms of life well? Let me suggest godly integrity.
Horatio Spafford knew about storms in life. He was a successful lawyer and real estate developer in the late nineteenth century in Chicago.
The first “storm” to hit Spafford’s life came in 1871 when his only son died. Shortly after his son’s death, the great Chicago Fire wiped him out financially.
In 1873, his family planned a trip to Europe. Spafford, however, was delayed by business and sent his wife and four daughters on ahead of him. While crossing the Atlantic, the vessel carrying his family was struck and sank rapidly. His four daughters died. His wife, who survived the shipwreck, sent a telegram to Spafford which simply read, “Saved. Alone.”
Horatio Spafford’s life was overwhelmed by storms in a very short period of time. How could one respond to such devastation?
Losing a son, losing your livelihood, losing all your daughters? What pain, what torture of the soul. What could possibly hold a man steady in such storms? What could possibly guide a man to safety in such turmoil? Godly integrity is what carried Spafford through.
Shortly after receiving the news of his daughters’ deaths, he boarded a ship to meet his wife in Europe.
When the ship reached the approximate place where his daughters died, the captain shared this with Spafford. His soul overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, he picked up a pen and poured out his heart to God…
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Spafford to write (or even think) these words, but somehow in the “calm” seasons of his life, integrity and faith in Christ was fashioned into a strong, consistent structure that carried him through the worst storms of his life…and he found peace.
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
What is going to guide you through the storms of life to the peace of Christ?
“The integrity of the upright guides them.”
What are you doing in the “calm” seasons of life to prepare your “house” for when the storms hit. The storms are coming. Will you have the anchor and compass of godly integrity to see you through?
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
by Jonathan Daugherty
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Heb. 12:4
My life really isn’t hard. I generally get to wake up when I want to. I grab a cup of coffee and have dozens of choices about what kinds of creamers or sugars I might add. I hop into my car, drive to my office or a client appointment, and go about my day. I’m not forced to denounce my faith or engage in activities that clearly defy God’s Word. And yet, I have moments and seasons in which I think this thing called “life” is unbearable. It’s sad, really.
Before you think that I am minimizing the struggles we do face in America or shaming those who get panicky when their “check engine” light comes on, let me assure you I am not saying these are not real burdens. But when we open our lives to the light of Scripture, we find some really convicting and revealing truth regarding our inner battle with sin and obedience to God. I would guess that a majority of my American friends reading this post have never “shed blood” in their struggle against sin. And that’s OK. But God has a whole other view of the intensity by which we should resist sin.
In my comfortable life it can be easy to become just as comfortable with the sinful temptations that surround me each day. Temptations such as laziness, greed, selfishness, slander, gossip, unkindness, lust, and the list goes on (probably fairly similar to your list…). But God doesn’t want me to be “comfortable” with such things. He wants me (and you), in obedience to Him, to RESIST these influences, even to the point of shedding my blood.
It is just as easy for me to become comfortable with only the commands God gives that I like or feel confident accomplishing.
“Pray for one another.” Got it. I can do that (or at least say I'll do it).
“Give.” Okay, a little more difficult, but I can still do that (even on a full-time minister’s salary).
“Love your enemies.” Ouch! Are you sure about that one?
“Turn the other cheek.” Hold on a second.
As the commands cut into my comfort, I am left with a choice: obey or give in to sin.
You may be thinking, “Wait just a minute, Jonathan. Isn’t that a little dramatic, saying our only choice in responding to God’s commands is to obey or sin?!” It may sound overly dramatic, but it is still true. On any point in which God instructs us to do something and we choose not to do it, we are disobeying and therefore sinning against God. I know it’s an uncomfortable thought, mostly because I know I can disobey in such ways multiple times a day. But if we don’t embrace the truth, we cannot be changed by it.
What sins are crouching at your door, enticing you to ignore the good and loving commands of the Savior? Don’t be afraid to let the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, pierce your heart so that you might become better at resisting sin. Jesus set the example of “resisting to the point of shedding blood.” May we be willing to follow His lead…
by Jonathan Daugherty
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16
Do you wonder sometimes if there is a “payoff” for obeying God? I mean, doesn’t it seem like everything He asks us to do just flies in the face of what the culture promotes and even demands? It often feels like swimming upstream without any relief in sight. What is the payoff, if there even is one?
The good news is that God isn’t a killjoy. In fact, He is just the opposite. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Abundant life doesn’t sound like a downer! But with all these boundaries that God expects us to live within, what benefit derives from faithfully obeying His restrictions? In a word, righteousness.
There are certainly many additional benefits to obeying God, but I really want to focus in on righteousness because it is becoming less and less familiar in our world as our attentions are drawn away toward all that appeals to our fleshly appetites. We often don’t even realize how distracted we are, and the terrible consequences of the enslavement to sin and death.
Righteousness is defined as “the quality or state of being morally upright.” How can anyone be in a state of “moral uprightness” apart from God, the supreme moral Lawgiver? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way…) If we are incapable of righteousness apart from God, then what connects us to God? Faith! “The righteous will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17b) And faith in God is not disconnected from our obedience to Him. In fact, our faith is expressed through our obedience. Take a look at how this beautiful progression works:
What a beautiful process that paints a clearer picture of what Jesus meant by “abundant life.” This isn’t a self-seeking life or life merely of pleasure, but rather a life of righteousness born out of faith in the Creator God. And as we are “enslaved” to obedience a rich harvest of righteousness is produced in us. What a payoff, here and in eternity!
What are you “enslaving” yourself to, sin or obedience? Cast off all your lusts and self-pleasing desires and embrace obedience to God’s Word. As you are shackled more tightly to obeying the Lord of heaven and earth, a righteousness from God will be produced and your faith will grow. And the payoff is a beautiful thing…
by Jonathan Daugherty
Obeying God will eventually clash with the culture, no matter where you live on the planet. We in America still live in a free country and enjoy the great privilege of worshiping God freely without threat of reprisal from the government. But even so, to live a life of faithful obedience to God will require some tough choices.
Chariots of Fire is one of my all-time favorite movies. It tells the true story of Eric Liddell, a Scotsman who was a tremendously fast athlete and also a devoted Christian. He gained much notoriety through his athletic accomplishments while at the University of Edinburgh, even setting a world record of 9.7 seconds in the 100-yard dash. But in Liddell’s mind, he was a Christian first and an athlete second. This conviction, however, would be challenged on the largest athletic stage in the world.
The 1924 Olympics were held in Paris and Eric Liddell was to participate in two races, the 100-meter and 400-meter. The 100-meter race, however, was scheduled to be run on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of rest. Liddell had never run a race on a Sunday out of reverence and commitment to the Lord. He was now being asked to break such a commitment, and the world was watching. He didn’t flinch. And he didn’t run. But he still won…
The 400-meter race was not scheduled on Sunday, and therefore Eric ran in it. It wasn’t his strongest race and no one expected much out of him. But as he stepped up to the starting blocks on the day of the race, an American slipped a piece of paper into his hand that had 1 Samuel 2:30 scribbled on it, “Those who honor me I will honor.” Eric ran every step of the race with that piece of paper firmly gripped in his hand. And he not only won the race, but set a new world record!
Do you think Eric Liddell enjoyed the difficulty of the decision he made in Paris in 1924? I doubt it. I’m sure his flesh rose up and wanted to run in that race, in spite of what it would have meant to his conviction before the Lord and testimony before a watching world. We have all been there. That is why it takes courage to obey the voice of the Lord. It takes guts to say “no” when everyone else is saying “yes.” But let us encourage one another, just like the American encouraged Eric, that our obedience to God will honor Him, and ultimately He will honor us.
Run the race of life with courage!
by Jonathan Daugherty
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 1:6
How often do you link love and obedience? I know for me it seems like an odd combination. And yet, that is precisely what God does (repeatedly) when He talks about our love of Him. Jesus stated it clearly when he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
I don’t always see obedience as the primary indicator, or barometer, of my love for God. I usually prefer to count on my emotions. How do I feel toward God? After all, love is an emotion, right? We often think of love in terms of how we feel about someone or something. I love my wife, I love my mother, I love my children, I love my sports team, I love chocolate (okay, this is starting to hit too close to home…). Oh, and tack on, I love God… Huh?
What happens, though, when your emotions shift or dull? What happens when life kicks you in the teeth and you are scratching your head wondering, Where is God? In these moments, or seasons, we won’t necessarily feel like loving God, even if we believe in our minds and hearts it is true. Therefore, our love for God must be expressed through obedience.
This makes sense if you think about it from a parent’s perspective. Do we think our children truly understand love if it is only about a feeling, or do we give them opportunities to express their love by “obeying our commands?”
“Ethan, it is time for you to clean up your room.”
“Dad, I love you, but I don’t really feel like cleaning it up right now. See ya.”
Does Ethan really love me (or even understand the true meaning of love) or is he simply using words to appeal to my emotions, in hopes that the command will just go away? Unfortunately, I think this is how we often engage God.
“Jonathan, do not lie.”
“God, I love you, but I could get a bigger tax return if I just don’t report half my income. And, of course, I’ll give a tenth of it back to you!”
Is that really loving God? Not so much.
What are the commands that God has given that you are unwilling to obey? In each case, you are essentially displaying hatred for God, not love. Let us become those willing to “practice what we preach.” If we say we love God, let’s do what He says…
by Jonathan Daugherty
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” 1 Peter 1:1-2 (emphasis mine)
We were not made to call the shots in our lives. We were made to obey God. We were made for following, not leading. Obedience is at the heart of faith in God. In fact, it is through our faith in Christ that we can fulfill our purpose of obeying God and magnifying His glory.
Adam had it good, being the first man and all. He was perfectly designed and had quite a special connection with God. The bible tells us that Adam would “walk with God” in the afternoon throughout the garden of Eden. Think about that. Just walking around the woods with the Creator of the universe! No sin in the world, no division in fellowship, no shame. What a cool thought…
But Adam wasn’t made for himself. Adam (and subsequently, the rest of humanity) was made for God. We were made for His pleasure and purpose. And God graciously gave us a choice. After all, a true love relationship cannot exist without free will. But even so, God was merciful to Adam in the fact that he only gave him ONE RULE to follow: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God didn’t have to be that nice. Him being the rule maker, He could have set up dozens or hundreds of rules for Adam to obey. But He didn’t. Just one. And as with any law, there are consequences. In Adam’s case, obey and live, disobey and die.
From the beginning, our relating with God comes with His expectation of our obedience. And He has the right to have such an expectation. He made us, we didn’t invent Him. He has always desired us, that we might be intimately connected to Him in a love relationship forever. Despite our disobedience He even made a way for us to enjoy such a connection through faith in Jesus. He took the initiative to pay our penalty for disobedience. Folks, He really does love us!
But too often I think Christians falsely assume that within this idea of God making us for Himself that salvation alone is His end purpose, that somehow once we are saved there are no expectations that God has of us. Not true. God’s gift of salvation to us is so that, in a way, we might “return to the Garden.” And in the Garden, obedience was expected, even in that perfect, sin-free state. We are still made for obedience.
This doesn’t need to scare us. I have come to realize that my exercise of faith through obedience to God’s Word brings exactly what God promises: life and peace. It is amazing to me that I am sometimes astonished that God’s ways work (what an embarrassing confession!). But I am grateful for His patience and grace in my life as I learn to fulfill my purpose of obedience to His will.
Are you fulfilling your purpose?
by Jonathan Daugherty
Obedience – the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance. ¹
In order to get off to a good start on unraveling this characteristic of obedience, it is important that we understand its basic definition. Therefore, I have included a very standard definition (above) that simply states what obedience is. This should be the end of today’s post, right? Should be, but it’s not.
The definition above just doesn’t satisfy. Sure, it is direct, understandable, even possible to perform if one were so inclined. But it is also incomplete because it doesn’t really get to the heart of the fundamental essence of obedience: authority! If you look at the definition of “obedient” you might come across some more direct statements regarding authority, but even then you are left guessing at what authority means or where it comes from. Authority is essential to obedience, especially as God has structured things.
God is the original Authority. There is no authority apart from God, for God is sovereign over all that He has made. Everything in all creation is ultimately subject to the word and will of God. Therefore, any authority established on earth is really subject to God’s overall authority. The bible even declares this:
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1
If authority is essential to understanding obedience, and all authority has been established by God, how does this expand our definition (if at all) of obedience?
I suggest that a more complete definition of obedience would be “the practice of submissive compliance to established authority, out of reverence and love of God.”
Let’s assume this is a good definition. (Who knows, I could be wrong…) If it is, how might this change your attitude and perspective toward all authority around you? Does it change your view toward government officials, police officers, pastors, parents, employers, etc.? If all authority flows down from God, and if God has the expectation that we obey Him (and He does), what changes might this affect in our thinking, our attitude, and our actions toward those in authority over us?
I know this is convicting stuff. I’m not even that thrilled to write it (is that too honest?). But there is a reason why God’s Word is called a Sword. (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12) Truth is meant to cut, to slice away all that is not pure, all that doesn’t come from our perfect Father above. I believe if we allow the proper definition of obedience to penetrate our hearts, we will ultimately come to a place where we find peace and joy because we are humbly resting under God’s authority as He has seen fit to establish it over us.
Who in authority over you is God challenging you to view in a different light? Can you trust God enough to submit? Unless those in authority are demanding you break God’s law, absolute obedience is expected…and rewarded in eternity.
¹ “obedience.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 14 Sep. 2009. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/obedience)