INTEGRITY (Article) by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on March 12, 2022)
How many of you would agree that we need some integrity in our nation’s leadership? How many of you would also agree that we all can use more integrity in our own lives? Unfortunately, the standards of integrity are not rising but dropping more than ever. Integrity is who you are when only God is watching. It refuses to join the crowd and chooses to stand alone. It rejects immediate gratifications and waits for ultimate gains. It recognizes the power of sin and distrusts the power of self. We can see the importance of integrity clearly demonstrated in the encounter between Joseph and Potiphar’s wife.
Joseph’s ability to rebuff the advances of Potiphar’s wife was a result of his decisions made years earlier when he was just a young boy. We learn in Genesis 37:3, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” At first reading, it may seem that Jacob set his son Joseph up to be hated by playing favorites, but if you back up to verse 2, you will see that among all his sons, Joseph was different.That’s why he made him the coat of many colors, which was a ruler’s robe. Of course, this irritated the brothers. To make matters worse, Joseph started having some interesting dreams that pointed toward his position of prominence and authority, making his brothers hate him all the more. Integrity refuses to join the crowd and chooses to stand alone because there is a vision.
From there, the narrative picks up speed. Jacob sent Joseph to check on his other sons as they were grazing the sheep near Shechem. His brothers saw him at a distance and conspired to kill him. Reuben talks them out of killing him and they throw him in a pit without water, and later Judah talks them into selling him to some slave traders. Eventually, Joseph found himself sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. Keep in mind that he is a slave in Egypt, but God’s plan is working. Joseph could have complained about being unjustly treated by his brothers, but he chose to focus on working hard, and God kept blessing him. Do you focus all your time and effort on your misfortunes or are you busy serving God? Do you have a victim mentality or are you living for the vision of God?
When God is busy blessing you, Satan is not far behind. Enter Potiphar’s wife and her advances. Joseph repeatedly rejects her, saying that he does not want to take advantage of his master, but, even more so, he does not want to sin against God. Potiphar’s wife was not going to give up easily, though. Later in the narrative, she grabs him by his robe, but he literally runs away from her and the temptation. Did you notice that he did not try to reason with her or pray? He ran. There is a time to reason and then there is a time to run. Integrity recognizes the power of sin and distrusts the power of self.
As you know, she falsely accused him, which resulted in Potiphar throwing Joseph in prison. This may be the point where some would say, “Forget integrity. When in Egypt, do like the Egyptians do.” However, Joseph maintained his integrity. Through giving interpretations of dreams, he was able to get out of prison. Next, Pharaoh himself had a dream of the coming famine in the future. Joseph gave the interpretation. As a result, Pharaoh makes Joseph second-in-command over all Egypt. There is the prize of integrity. Integrity rejects immediate gratifications and waits for ultimate gains.
Living with integrity is only possible through God working within us. Are you saved? Today is the day to come to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. He is much more than just your conscience. Conscience gets shaped by life and circumstances. The Holy Spirit remains pure because he is a person of the Godhead.