“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” –Isaiah 32:17 (NIV)
Why should we pursue integrity? Why should we live uprightly in this world? When it seems that everywhere we look a sinful lifestyle reaps benefits in the here and now, we often wonder why we even bother to do so. But if we believe that a life lived without a so-called “restrictive sense of morality” is free from anxiety and fulfilling, we are sadly mistaken. Consider for a moment the person who tells a lie to get out of a tough situation. He may be alleviated of any sort of immediate punishment, but his anxiety is added to because he has to continue to heap lies in order to maintain the ruse he has built for himself. Likewise with any sinful pattern, though it may seemingly pay today, it hurts tomorrow. It is no wonder that the psalms speak of the woes of the wicked being many.
A life spent in the pursuit of righteousness and truth has a benefit that far surpasses any other-peace. When people unfairly accuse us of wrongdoing, a life that has striven to cultivate integrity will be our strongest advocate. We will be secure knowing that with God as our witness, we are not guilty of the charges that have been so wrongfully lodged against us. Unless if we in our own folly have pursued vice and thus compromised our witness for Christ, no one will be able to accuse a truly virtuous man of partaking in evil without looking like a fool. Those who pursue righteousness are also respected and loved far more than the one who has gone down the path of wickedness. God has promised that He will preserve the righteous. But this righteousness is not one formed by human effort. We as humans, despite our hardest efforts, will only corrupt any attempt at living a righteous life because of our fallen nature. It is a righteousness that can only come through Christ working in our hearts and refining us into becoming children that reflect the qualities of our Father. Choose the path of righteousness and we will live in peace and harmony with God, ourselves, and with each other. Choose sin and we will be crushed by its weight and the anxieties that come with it.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.