Psalm 26 

Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
I do not sit with men of falsehood,
nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O Lord,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
O Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

Walk in Integrity

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. Ps. 26:11

Integrity has been defined as what you do when no one is watching. It means doing the right thing even if no one else would ever know–even if it’s to your disadvantage.

Integrity keeps us from cutting corners when we run laps at practice. It stops us from looking up answers during a take-home test. It urges us to come home by curfew even if sleeping parents wouldn’t notice. Integrity is doing the right thing, even when the temptation to do otherwise is enticingly within reach.

Who do you know who strives to uphold a high sense of integrity?

How would you rate yourself?

Where integrity is doing the right thing, even if no one sees you, sin is doing the wrong thing, even if no one knows. Our sin might be hidden from others, but God our Father knows our thoughts, words, and deeds. He knows what we do when no one is watching–both the good and the bad. And so we pray to God to redeem us and be gracious to us (v.11).

Where we fail at living in integrity, Jesus exceeds. He was tempted in every way–including to compromise His integrity–and yet, He resisted. The devil had a prime opportunity to tempt Jesus to “cut corners” after He had been fasting by Himself for 40 days. Weak and tired from going without food, Jesus resisted using His divine powers to ease the burden of being hungry. No one would have known if Jesus ended His fast a little early by turning stones into bread (after all, He’d already been fasting for 40 days!), or if He’d display His command over the angels to perform a miracle, or even expand His earthly reign by making a deal with the devil. But Jesus never gives in (Matt. 4:1-11).

Whether alone by Himself or at the center of a large crowd, Jesus never wavers on doing the right thing. Even when doing the right thing would cost Him His life, Jesus remains full of integrity. In Jesus’ faithfulness to the Father’s will, He went to the cross to defeat sin, death, and the power of the devil. And in our Baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, we receive Christ’s integrity. We are clothed with His righteousness before God. And by His power, we, too, can fight temptation and seek to live a life of integrity.

Having integrity doesn’t mean pretending to be perfect when we know we’re not. In fact, the apostle John says we are liars and deceivers if we try to say we don’t have sin.

1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Integrity means being honest about sin and failure. It doesn’t try to cover up the truth of our sin but brings sin into the light where darkness is exposed and seen for what it is.

Rather, in integrity, we present our sin before God knowing that, “when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In confession, God is gracious to us and redeems us time and time again. In forgiveness, we can continue to walk with God in integrity.

Discussion question: Who do you know who strives to uphold a high sense of integrity? How would you rate yourself?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for living a life of integrity so that in Your perfect victory over sin, I, too, may walk in the newness of life. Equip me with the power of Your Word and Spirit to fight temptation in my life. Forgive me when I fail. Thank You for graciously redeeming me and claiming me as Your child. Amen.

Challenge/Takeaway activity: Jesus fights temptation by quoting Scripture. God’s Word is filled with power! What verse can you put to memory to help you when you’re tempted?