Thursday, April 22, 2021

Integrity over Popularity - Martin Wiles

If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. Acts 25:11 NLT

Of the many students who didn’t, he chose integrity over popularity.

Jason appeared to be a loner when he came to our school. On field day, he rarely attended. When I asked his older brother why, he said he just didn’t enjoy such activities. Nor did Jason ever attend our end-of-the-year party at the local bowling alley. During lunch, we often watched him sit by himself. We felt sorry for him, but he enjoyed being alone. 

A part of why Jason stayed to himself was that he enjoyed it that way. Give him a book to read, and he was set for the day. But integrity also drove him to be alone. Some of his classmates involved themselves in actions and spoke words that Jason didn’t agree with. He belonged to a Christian family, and his parents had taught him Christian principles. He wanted to follow them, so he merely chose to stay away from temptation to maintain his integrity.

Paul chose integrity as well. He was in prison and experiencing false accusations. It appeared he had no choice but to appeal to Caesar in Rome, the highest authority. And he did.

Integrity does the right thing when everyone looks and when no one looks. Peer pressure is real. Jason experienced it. So did Paul. I have, too. And it doesn’t stop when we finish school. It lingers into college…work…life. Some will always tempt us to do the wrong thing. We can follow the crowd, which chooses wrong regularly, or we can choose God’s principles.

When we choose integrity, some will disown us, as many did Jason … and me when I was in middle school. Jesus didn’t compromise His integrity for popularity with people. When He confronted the crowds with God’s principles, some believed, but most rejected Him. Some hated Him so much for His stand that they took Him to a cross.

Only God can give us the strength to say “No” when we need to—or to look the other way when we should. Making up our mind to do right ahead of time is also important. Waiting until we’re in the heat of the temptation to decide usually leads to failure.

Make up your mind to choose integrity over popularity.

Prayer: Father, give us the strength to stand for Your principles even when many others don’t.

Tweetable: Do you choose integrity over popularity? 

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