November 20 I Saturday
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ....I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.” —2 Corinthians 1:21 & 23
An important issue Paul had to address early in 2 Corinthians was the charge against him of dishonesty. There were those in the Corinthian church who claimed Paul was double-minded because he never went to the city after promising to visit. This charge against his character had obviously influenced the thinking of enough people in the church for Paul to provide them with reasons for his change of plans. He explained that the Holy Spirit’s promptings and his previous letters to them dealing with painful issues were why he chose not to come.
It was not only Paul’s integrity being challenged, but his motives in having a hidden agenda to promote himself. He responded to these false accusations by saying, “Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace” (2 Corinthians 1:12). Paul’s defense of his honesty and sincerity was his utter dependence on God. This was not something he strived to achieve for himself, but was the result of Christ living in Him.
When we put our faith in Christ, the basic character we exhibit will be consistent with the character of God. Our honesty and integrity come not from trying to imitate Christ, but from depending on Him to live His life in us. As God increasingly transforms us to His character, we will naturally find ourselves wanting to be honest people, regardless of consequences. This is evidence of God’s working in us.
There are times we are tempted to be dishonest because it will somehow benefit us and we know we can get away with it. We might even justify our actions by rationalizing that it is for a greater good, or it will save us from harm or protect someone. There are many excuses we can make to quench the Holy Spirit’s conviction. We know from Paul’s writings that the human nature is bankrupt. He says of himself, ”For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…” (Romans 7:18, NASB 1995). In other words, we do not put confidence in the flesh, because we are incapable of living the way God intended out of our own abilities and disciplines.
The Christian life is not natural, but supernatural in its working, and the default position of someone living in Christ is that they act with honesty and integrity. It is a holiness and righteousness received from God, and like Paul, being rooted in Christ is the only defense we need.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I have been dishonest. Thank You for Your work in conforming me to Your character. May honesty and integrity become my default position as a Christian.