A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
We started talking about integrity last week, defining real integrity as walking in unity with God. Following his purpose and plan rather than our own. Letting God determine what is true and right and good rather than letting society or even our own conscience determine the moral norms we should follow.
Today, I’d like us to consider a passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 4 as we think about our integrity. Solomon said this: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
You might ask, “What does that have to do with integrity?”
I’d answer, “Everything.” You see, we need a good friend to keep us accountable. Particularly in this day and age, and in our society in which it seems that what is right is only what I think is right for me. We live in a time when we are always asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” Instead of asking what God would have us do in the same circumstance.
When Solomon wrote these words, I’m not sure he had just the physical realm in mind. As we think about those verses, they apply equally to our spiritual lives, as well. Let’s take a look at them again. Two have a good return for their labor. You’ll remember that when Jesus sent the disciples out across the countryside to spread the message that the kingdom of God was at hand. He didn’t send them as single preachers. He sent them in pairs. Why? Because of this verse.
Two have a good return on their labor. Two reinforce each other. Two help each other from getting discouraged when tasks seem insurmountable. Two provide a little competition to each other to get things done faster and better. Two help each other see tasks from different perspectives and find solutions to problems that one alone would not see. It’s like someone writing letters in the sand and depending on which side of the letters you’re standing on, you might read the word mom or you might see the word wow. Both are right from your perspective. But together you can pick the one that makes the most sense for the problem at hand.
Climbers know you never climb alone because of that second axiom. If a piton slips out of place or a rope breaks or a misstep causes an injury in mountainous terrain, without help, a single climber might be doomed. With two, there is hope of rescue. The same is true of diving and other sports in which one slip could cause catastrophic results.
Those who live in the northern most climates understand the importance of maintaining body temperatures and the best way to warm up someone who has been exposed to the frigid elements of those arctic temperatures is to climb into a sleeping bag with them. Body spooned against body to raise the temperature of an exposure victim works when medical facilities are not readily available. But alone in that same sleeping bag, the hypothermic individual body temperature will rise very slowly if at all because there is nothing inside the bag to raise the temperature. Alone, they will continue to fight the lower core temperature for hours before the body can recover on its own, if at all.
Defense is the next one. I know you’ve heard the term, “I’ve got your back.” That’s what it's all about. Alone, the enemy can come from behind and you’d never see him. But with two, your back is covered. The enemy can’t slip in. Your friend is right there with you.
And a cord of three strands? It’s the difference of wrapping a single thread around your hands and breaking it versus wrapping that same thread around your hands several times. Now it gets pretty tough to break if you can break it at all. The additional rounds of that thin thread add the extra strength that makes the “cord” stronger than you.
Now do you see how all those fit with our spiritual fight.?
In our society where integrity can slip away so easily because of the situational ethics, the sliding morality, the growing sense that right is whatever is right in your own eyes. We need someone to help us maintain our integrity. We need an accountability partner. We need someone who will walk along beside us who is not afraid to tell us like it is and keep us on the path of God’s truth, not our own.
When we find that accountability partner, we can help each other in our labor. We can grow in our faith and in our relationships with God and man because we have nothing to hide. We live a life of integrity which means we stay above the filth and lies that have become the norm for so many in our society.
When we find that accountability partner, we can help each other up when we fall. None of us are perfect. We will falter from time to time. We do not that helping hand to reach out and help us get up and get back on the path of truth and rightness and integrity. We need someone who will stay with us during those times and lift us up with a helping hand, not point fingers at us and walk away. But at the same time, that accountability partner will not condone the bad behavior. He will not allow you to stay on a path of destruction. A good accountability partner will be just that, one who holds you accountable for your actions and your words and your attitudes.
When we find that accountability partner, we will find one who challenges us and we will challenge them with new insights into God’s word. We will grow together on the journey before us. We will keep each other from getting cold in our faith. We will not let each other become lukewarm in our attitude toward God and his plan like the church at Laodicea. We will warm each other in our spiritual lives by constantly challenging each other to become more like Christ through the interaction we have with each other as partners, accountable to watch each others integrity quotient.
As accountability partners, we can help defend each other in the faith. Satan knows our weaknesses. A good accountability partner should too. But that means we must open up to them and share those points in our life where we are most weak. Then our partner can come along beside us and watch our back. He can watch where we go, observe what we do, help us to fight the enemy by helping us maintain our integrity by escaping from those temptations in the first place. A good accountability partner will help us change the habits that put us in places and situations that could compromise our integrity, our oneness with God.
What does the cord with three strands mean? It means I can’t get through this spiritual journey alone. I know churches are filled with hypocrites. I know there are evil people in churches. I know not everyone who has their name on a membership role or who teaches a Sunday School class is a model Christian or even a Christian at all. But some of the people in church are good solid followers of Jesus Christ. Some are worth emulating. Some are worthy of watching and learning from their lives.
Churches are like hospitals for sinners. They should be full of sinners. They should be filled with evil people seeking a way to find peace and forgiveness in their lives. And some of those leaders who you point to that don’t fit your definition of Christian? Well, they are in the right place, too. Where else can they hope to find Christ but in a sinner’s clinic?
We still can’t make it alone. We need people around us to help us on this spiritual journey. If you don’t like the church you’re in, find one you can worship in. Find one that doesn’t seem so hypocritical. Find one that preaches and teaches God’s word, not the latest news item. Find a church with people who are struggling with life’s questions the same way you are. I pass at least a dozen churches on the way to mine. Surely, some church around you fits the needs you have of finding a Bible believing church. Go there. Find an accountability partner. Grow together in a life of integrity.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.