Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought was first posted on March 28, 2015.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“And Job again took up his discourse, and said: “As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.”
I recently introduced the habit of journaling to my class, and they were asked to spend the beginning of the period writing about whatever came to mind. A cheeky little sixth grader promptly raised her hand and asked if I was going to read her journal; it was clear that my answer would determine how pithy her entry would be. In my eagerness to have them experience true, unfiltered journaling, I announced that if they didn’t want me to read this entry, the students could write a “p” for “private” on the corner of the page and circle it. Many of them approved this proposal and started writing away.
I’m not sure how resolutely I intended to keep this promise as it left my lips, but as soon as class was dismissed and the journals were neatly stacked on my desk, there was nothing more tempting to me in that moment than to read the very pages I pledged to not read. So after a brief, hardly identifiable struggle against my better judgment, I gingerly paged through each entry marked with a circled “p” and read them all.
If I were to be completely honest with myself, I’d have to sadly admit that demonstrating integrity matters more to me when I’m around people than when I’m alone. It’s more motivating to do the right thing when it visibly strengthens my reputation and when acting otherwise might result in being judged or disappointing someone. But when no one is around, my truest self is revealed — the self that often resembles nothing like the self that presents herself at family group or at Sunday service. The self that, on a recent visit to New York, stopped by a hotel to use the restroom and then decided to sneak herself into the complimentary breakfast area and indulged in an English muffin. And some scrambled eggs. And some bacon. All while sitting at a table as a perceived patron, doing my morning devotions – not bothered enough by the irony of my actions to leave before helping myself to another scoop of eggs.
My pastor or friends or family group members may never know about these private moments of defeat (well, I guess they might now), but they don’t just vanish away. Each of those little decisions does its part in paving a path that is wide; the further I proceed, the more unrecognizable my sins will become to my hardening heart. Instead of leading a double life, I am called to live for an audience of One, who will give me the strength to overcome temptation so that I don’t live this life in vain. Let’s fight for a soft heart today, pressing on to live our private moments with integrity so that we can hear His gentle voice not just in theory, but powerfully in our daily lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am devoid of integrity. Put the fear of God in me so that I take the matter of integrity with an utmost seriousness. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 23-24