“‘How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.’” Genesis 39:9c-d (NLT)
“Mom, have you ever stolen something?” My teen daughter waited for my response. Since teens seem to have built-in lie detectors, I knew there was no hiding from her.
“Yes,” I sighed. I recounted the times I took relatively small things, knowing what I was doing was wrong. When I took those things, I squashed down my guilty feelings by telling myself, “No one will know.” I convinced myself the secret swipes were no big deal. But every time I saw or used those stolen things, I was reminded of my lapses in integrity.
Not only did I tell my daughter that stealing is wrong, but I emphasized that lying to myself and God was just as bad. We both needed to be reminded that God knows everything, even if no one else will ever find out. That’s what makes integrity so challenging but so important.
To live as devoted followers of God, we must protect ourselves with integrity. This is a challenge that can only be met when we listen to the Holy Spirit’s warnings, follow Jesus’ example, and desire to honor our heavenly Father with full obedience. God wants us to live with integrity, trusting Him in the secret places of our lives.
Joseph, whose story is found in Genesis, is my favorite example of a person with integrity. A teenager sold into slavery by his family, he was suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar yet sophisticated world. As an adult, he was placed in a high-ranking Egyptian officer’s home, where he faced relentless temptation from his master’s wife. (Genesis 39) But when she invited him to sin in secret with her, he said:
“‘How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God’” (Genesis 39:9c-d, NLT).
Joseph knew sexual sin was wrong. But he was most concerned about how a lapse of integrity would damage his relationship with God. Though his choice for integrity landed him in prison, it intensified his relationship with God. This constant awareness of God’s loving presence must have sustained Joseph in those years before he became second-in-command of Egypt. (Genesis 41)
It’s so easy to tell ourselves that “secret sins” don’t really matter — the purchases we don’t really need, the videos we shouldn’t watch, the fantasies we shouldn’t entertain. I’ve been tempted in all these areas and failed more times than I can count. But the more I choose integrity when no one else sees, the stronger my trust in God becomes.
I want to be a woman of integrity for God’s glory and an example to my daughter. I want her to learn that trusting God in the secret places is a mark of integrity, something that will strengthen her faith as she grows. It protects me, and it will protect her, too.
Father God, thank You for the gift of integrity. I want to trust You more in the secret places where I am tempted to sin because no one else sees. Guide me with Your Holy Spirit’s conviction and help me follow Jesus’ example. May I be a woman of integrity for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Sarah Geringer’s new book releases today! Transforming Your Thought Life for Teens: Renew Your Mind with God helps teens choose integrity in their thought lives. Click here to get your copy!
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 25:21, “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.” (NLT)
In which areas of your life do you want to grow as a woman of integrity? Share your thoughts and prayer requests in the comments.
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