“Until I die, I will not renounce my integrity!”— Job 27:5
[From ws 02/19 p.2 Study Article 6: April 8 -14]
The preview to the article this week asks, what is integrity? Why does Jehovah value that quality in his servants? Why is integrity important to each of us? This article will help us find the Bible’s answers to those questions.
The Cambridge dictionary defines integrity as follows:
There are two Hebrew words which when translated are rendered as integrity.
The Hebrew word tom meaning “simplicity,” “soundness,” “completeness,” rendered also “upright,” “perfection.”
Also the Hebrew word “tummah”, from “tamam”, which used in Job 27:5 meaning, “to complete,” “be upright,” “perfect“.
Interestingly the word “tummah” instead of “tom” is also used in Job 2:1, Job 31:6 and Proverbs 11:3.
Now keeping in mind this definition how does the article measure up this week in providing the reader with a clear understanding of what integrity is?
Paragraph 1 starts off with 3 imaginary scenarios;
- “A young girl is at school one day when the teacher asks all the students in class to take part in a holiday celebration. The girl knows that this holiday does not please God, so she respectfully refuses to join in.”
- “A shy young man is preaching from door to door. He realizes that someone from his school lives at the next house—a fellow student who has made fun of Jehovah’s Witnesses before. But the young man goes to the house and knocks on the door anyway.”
- “A man is working hard to provide for his family, and one day his boss asks him to do something dishonest or illegal. Though he could lose his job, the man explains that he must be honest and obey the law because God requires that of his servants.”
Paragraph 2 states that we notice the qualities of courage and honesty. This is true, courage is required in all three scenarios but honesty is not required in the second scenario. The paragraph goes on to say “But one quality stands out as especially precious—integrity. Each of the three shows loyalty to Jehovah. Each one refuses to compromise on God’s standards. Integrity moves those individuals to act as they do.”
Do each of these scenarios show integrity and loyalty to God?
That depends on whether the actions in each scenario are in obedience to Jehovah.
Scenario 1: Does the Bible prohibit celebrating holidays? Well, does that not depend on the origin and purpose of the Holiday? True Christians avoid holidays that have any connection to spiritism, glorify violence or contradict Bible principles. Not all holidays contradict Bible principles. Take for instance Labour Day, which originates from unions advocating for shorter working days. This has resulted in a positive outcome with better working conditions for employees. Therefore, the action taken by the girl is commendable only to the extent that she is doing it to avoid breaking God’s principles rather than rules set by the Organisation.
Scenario 2: Does Jehovah require his servants to preach his word? Yes, Matthew 28:18-20 is clear that we should be teachers of God’s word and the good news given by Christ. Does the Bible require us to insist on preaching to those who have clearly indicated they have no interest in us preaching to them? Matthew 10:11-14 “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, greet the household. If the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet”. The principle in verse 13 and 14 is clear, where someone is not willing to receive you, go your way in peace. We are not required to force people to worship God nor are we required to humiliate ourselves where the prospects of having fruitful Bible discussions are limited. Jesus knew that many would reject his Word just as the Jews in his day – Matthew 21:42.
Scenario 3: The man refuses to do something dishonest. This is a true example of integrity, the man “has strong moral principles”.
WHAT IS INTEGRITY?
Paragraph 3 defines integrity as “wholehearted love for and unbreakable devotion to Jehovah as a Person, so that his will comes first in all our decisions. Consider some background. One basic meaning of the Bible word for “integrity” is this: complete, sound, or whole”. The example used to expand on the meaning of integrity is of the animals that the Israelites offered as a sacrifice to Jehovah. These had to be “sound” or “complete”. Notice that the writer uses the term “the Bible word for integrity” in a loose sense. We have already noted that there are two Bible words used for integrity. The appropriate word for the sacrificial animals is “tom” meaning “complete” in the sense that the animals should be free from any defect. The word in Job 27:5 is “tummah” which is only used with reference to a human being (read Job 2:1, Job 31:6 and Proverbs 11:3). The difference may appear to be subtle, but it matters when trying to get the sense of to what Job was referring. Job did not mean “Until I die, I will not renounce my [perfection or freeness from defect!]” [Bold ours]. He meant he would remain upright for he knew he was an imperfect man. (Job 9:2)
Why has the Watchtower article writer chosen to ignore the subtle difference? It could simply be an oversight on his part. However, experience tells us that is unlikely. Could it perhaps be because the Organization continues to encourage its members to make greater and greater sacrifices to please Jehovah which are in fact thinly disguised ways of sacrificing time, energy and resources all in the pursuit of Organizational objectives.
Note: At times, having integrity may result in some sacrifices such as losing your job or even physical harm. However, the sacrifices arise as a result of showing integrity. In order to clarify the context in Job 27:5 we are simply making the point that integrity should not always be equated to making sacrifices.
Paragraph 5 makes a good point “For servants of Jehovah, the key to integrity is love. Our love for God, our loyal devotion to him as our heavenly Father, must remain complete, sound, or whole. If our love remains like that even when we are tested, then we have integrity.” When we love Jehovah and his principles, it becomes easier for us to have integrity even under difficult circumstances.
WHY WE NEED INTEGRITY
Paragraphs 7 – 10 provide a summary of Job’s example of integrity and the tribulation that Satan mounted against him. Despite all the trials Job faced he kept his integrity until the end.
Paragraph 9 states “How did Job handle all that adversity? He was not perfect. He angrily rebuked his false comforters, and he uttered what he admitted was wild talk. He defended his own righteousness more than he did God’s. (Job 6:3; 13:4, 5; 32:2; 34:5) However, even in his worst moments, Job refused to turn against Jehovah God.”
What do we learn from this?
- Integrity may come at great cost to us
- Keeping integrity does not require perfection.
- We should never think that Jehovah is the cause of our tribulation
- If Job as an imperfect man could maintain his integrity under such severe trials, it is possible for us to keep our integrity even in difficult circumstances.
HOW WE CAN KEEP OUR INTEGRITY AT THIS TIME
Paragraph 12 says, “Job strengthened his love for God by developing awe for Jehovah.” How did he develop this awe for Jehovah?
“He also felt awe for Jehovah’s expressions. “I have treasured up his sayings,” Job said of God’s words. (Job 23:12)”
We do well to imitate the example of Job in both aspects highlighted by these scriptures. When we have respect for Jehovah and his principles, we will grow in our determination to keep our integrity to Him.
Paragraphs 13 – 16 also offer good counsel from which we can all benefit if we apply it in our lives.
Overall, this article offers sound guidance on how we can imitate Job in showing integrity. It is worth noting that irrespective of some of the points raised in paragraph 10, not all trials and tests of our integrity will be directly related to Satan’s claim against Job.
Keeping our integrity could also mean standing firm against false religious doctrine and false teachings of the Organization even when this could result in us (like Job) experiencing negative assertions from those whom we consider our friends.