1 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him.
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of[a] their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.
12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.
15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.
16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.
17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
19 Truly the righteous attain life,
but whoever pursues evil finds death.
20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
and the fool will be servant to the wise.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.
31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”
Integrity is an attractive attribute. Most of us hold on to the definition that insinuates a moral commitment, or strength of character that one either has or does not, a kind of pure determination to do what is right and just no matter the circumstance. Integrity at that point becomes an ingrained attribute, one either genetically passed on or instilled through teaching.
There is a second definition that is usually reserved for the description of a vessel or territory, one that lists integrity as a state of being whole and undivided. Taken to its most absolute conclusion, this idea yields a troubling finding for men who daily fall short of perfection: a thing may lose its integrity if a piece of it is removed.
However, this is not news to those of us journeying through the Proverbs.
We recognize that complete and unbroken faithfulness to the wisdom and ways of God is something we have all forsaken at times, handed over for less valuable conquests, which in time returned nothing but emptiness.
Proverbs 11 addresses this issue head-on and presents us with an opportunity to dig deeper and discover the trustworthy source of integrity we can return to daily.
Notice how often in the text Solomon draws a direct line from the righteous to their hope, between those who find favor and the source of that blessing. Similarly, he points out the causes of destruction people bring upon themselves. Integrity has a source, and so does ruin.
We have all had moments where we stood among difficulty and held firm, and we have all given in to the temptation to grab what was easy and immoral. The beauty of Proverbs 11 is that integrity ceases to be about our ability to grit our teeth and fend off the urges of sin by our strength.
Remember 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Through Christ’s sacrifice, we have become the very righteousness of God, and it is that righteousness that delivers us from the attacks of the enemy and completes within us a state of integrity so long as we depend on Him. Break that connection, pursue wealth and power through unjust ways, put your hope in riches, or give in to perversions of the flesh, and the integrity is broken. Thank God then that we have a Savior who restores us and makes all things new.
Examine your own life. Where have you surrendered the complete integrity of wisdom to claim an easier prize? Where have you given in when tempted by lesser rewards? Forgiveness is waiting in repentance, and the path towards a righteous life is before you.
God, I praise You for Your sacrifice. I fully acknowledge my brokenness and the reality that alone, I stand no chance of being good enough to stand before You. But, Jesus. Because of Him, I am allowed to turn from my sinful ways and live a life according to Your calling. I pray for You to break my heart for what breaks Yours. Reveal the things within me that are not of You and help me shed them off. I want to live a life of purity and integrity, in fullness, the way You created. Amen.