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There’s Always Somebody Watching

While teaching my first 7th grade Bible class, the curriculum spent a chapter investigating integrity. The definition provided in the textbook referred to integrity as doing what’s right when no one is looking. Although this mindset provides the foundation for a good work ethic, there is always someone noticing and watching how you live your life. This could be children, students or curious neighbors who have nothing better to do.

And the men of the place asked him about his wife, and he said, She is my sister; for he was afraid to say, She is my wife—[thinking], Lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she is attractive and is beautiful to look upon. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah his wife, Genesis 26:7-8.

If you work in a modern building and company, there’s always somebody watching the surveillance camera of what’s going on daily. Whenever there is an incident, security goes back to watch the context of what led up to this situation. Just like the plots in the film Enemy of the State and Live Free or Die Hard, Big Brother is now watching you as you drive through intersections and on tollways.

And Abimelech called Isaac and said, See here, she is certainly your wife! How did you [dare] say to me, She is my sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I thought, Lest I die on account of her. 10 And Abimelech said, What is this you have done to us? One of the men might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt and sin upon us. 11 Then Abimelech charged all his people, He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death, Genesis 26:9-11.

As for today’s featured passage, Isaac wasn’t truthful about his relationship with Rebekah. Whenever an attractive individual moves into your neighborhood, eyes are watching from inside their cars and homes. Isaac should have known better but had to learn the hard way when confronted by King Abimelech in the passage above. If Bette Midler came to the conclusion God is Watching Us, Christians should also know that God is all knowing and seeing.

by Jay Mankus

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Integrity of Heart and Innocent Hands

At some point as a child, you were blamed for something that you did not do. As a boy sitting at a junior high lunch table, the person who just unleashed a silent, but deadly fart, blamed me as everyone gagged. Before I could defend myself, holding my nose, no one believed me. While this is minor compared to what others are falsely accused of weekly, it never feels good to have your integrity attacked.

Did not the man tell me, She is my sister? And she herself said, He is my brother. In integrity of heart and innocency of hands I have done this, Genesis 20:5.

According to Genesis 20:17-18, King Abimelech’s wife and harem each had their wombs closed up, unable to have children for an extended period of time. This rare illness was brought upon Abimelech’s entire family because he took Sarah to become part of his harem. The passage above details Abimelech’s dream, where he pleads with God, claiming his innocence.

He who walks uprightly walks securely, but he who takes a crooked way shall be found out and punished. 10 He who winks with the eye [craftily and with malice] causes sorrow; the foolish of lips will fall headlong but [a]he who boldly reproves makes peace, Proverbs 10:9-10.

Following the conclusion of this dream, Abimelech confronted Abraham to figure out why he wasn’t completely truthful. Abraham thought he would be killed if he was honest about being married to Sarah. Unfortunately, Abimelech and his family was punished for his action based upon the idea Abraham was simply Sarah’s sister. Whether this blog finds you falsely accused or guilty as charged, James 5:16 provides a blueprint for confession so that integrity and innocence is restored.

by Jay Mankus

A Resounding Statement of Faith

In this political age of correctness, sensitivity, and wokeness, you don’t see many straight shooters who say what they mean and mean what they say. Due to peer pressure and hysteria on social media, many individuals are forced to walk back previous statements in order to please vocal critics. While Abram grew up in a much different culture, rejecting the generous gift mentioned below communicates a resounding statement of faith.

And the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons and keep the goods for yourself. 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand and sworn to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth, Genesis 14:21-22.

Abram didn’t want to feel any future obligation to the King of Sodom. Nor did Abram want to open the door for others to take credit for God’s blessings over his life. Modern politicians would consider this a big mistake by losing the support of a major donor. Despite Abram’s kryptonite, telling the truth, a spiritual maturity is demonstrated by the firm stance that Abram takes. Perhaps, God’s Spirit spoke to Abram’s conscience, warning him against accepting the plunders from war.

That I would not take a thread or a shoelace or anything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich. 24 [Take all] except only what my young men have eaten and the share of the men [allies] who went with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion, Genesis 14:23-24.

Abram’s selfless decision spreads the wealth to all ally members, who played a part in this victory. If there was ever a time for Christians to make a resounding statement of faith, 2023 is the year to stand up and shine, Matthew 5:13-16. This doesn’t have to be a bold proclamation. The apostle Paul told one church, actions speak louder than words, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Whatever you decide, make sure you emulate the love of Jesus as well as display integrity, especially when no one is looking.

by Jay Mankus

Lying is Like a Boomerang

The oldest boomerang discovered dates back to the Stone Age. Modern designs are constructed with aerofoil sections which enables boomerangs to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. Prior to throwing my first boomerang, I dabbled with an aerobie frisbee which is designed for distance, not meant to return back to you. While studying the life of Abram, I realized that lying is like a boomerang as sooner or later your careless words will come back to hit and haunt you.

And when he was about to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, I know that you are beautiful to behold. 12 So when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say, I beg of you, that you are [c]my sister, so that it may go well with me for your sake and my life will be spared because of you. 14 And when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into Pharaoh’s house [harem], Genesis 12:11-15.

If integrity is doing what’s right when no one is looking, Abram didn’t begin his journey with God on a good note. According to Moses, Abram was more concerned with saving his own life during a trip to Egypt rather than telling the truth. Rather than adhere to the words of King Solomon in Proverbs 3:5-6, Abram trusted in his own understanding. Meanwhile, Abram encourages his wife Sarai to play along, “you’re my sister,” wink wink. Based upon the passage below, this wasn’t Abram’s only lie.

So Isaac stayed in Gerar. And the men of the place asked him about his wife, and he said, She is my sister; for he was afraid to say, She is my wife—[thinking], Lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she is attractive and is beautiful to look upon. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac and said, See here, she is certainly your wife! How did you [dare] say to me, She is my sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I thought, Lest I die on account of her, Genesis 26:6-9.

Like father, like son as Isaac appears to have adopted Abram’s bad habit of lying. Moses refers to this as generational sins passed down by a father to his children, Exodus 20:4-5. Abram’s sinful tendency led to a life of exaggeration and half-truths. When placed into an identical situation as his father, Isaac tells the Philistine king that Rebekah was his sister. Before Abimelech took Rebekah to be his wife, Isaac’s caressing of Rebekah gave their little secret away. The next time you think about stretching the truth, remember that lying is like a boomerang which will eventually harm you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Leading by Example

Routines are like a comfort zone for people who thrive in a structured environment. Yet, my recent move to South Carolina has thrown me into a foreign land where I’m trying to figure out how everything works. At times, I feel like an undercover boss, seeing day to day details with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, this state is no different than Delaware with people saying one thing but failing to lead by example.

The instruments and methods of the fraudulent and greedy [for gain] are evil; he devises wicked devices to ruin the poor and the lowly with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is just and right, Isaiah 32:7.

Passing the buck and casting the blame are learned skills from adults on television. Whenever someone does take responsibility for their actions is a rare sight in America today. I was taught long ago that integrity is doing right when nobody’s watching. As a new employee, I see people change their work habits depending upon who’s around. I guess I’m just old school as work is work until it’s time to play.

But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things; and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous, Isaiah 32:8.

According to one Old Testament prophet, the noble lead by example. This isn’t done to get noticed or recognized. Rather it’s to please God by emulating the life of Jesus, Ephesians 4:1-3. I can’t waste my time worrying about what other people are doing or saying. As long as I strive to demonstrate the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, I’ll lead by example and let God take care of my future career.

by Jay Mankus

Detesting the Right Things

Detest is a common inspiration for daily tweets on social media. When you hear or see something that offends you, human nature has a way of expressing what you feel. According to King Solomon, it is good to detest those things that God despises. The Ephesians understood this biblical principle by hating the ungodly teaching of the Nicolaitans in the first century.

Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest, Revelation 2:6.

Unfortunately, modern day virtue signaling is like playing a child’s game of pretend. Subsequently, social media posts, tweets, and videos pile on daily to join Cancel Culture and the Woke Community. While these actions might be construed as disingenuous, these individuals are bowing down to the mob to avoid criticism. This is not the kind of detest that the Bible is referring to in today’s passages.

 It is an abomination [to God and men] for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established and made secure by righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation). 13 Right and just lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right, Proverbs 16:12-13.

Detest should flow out of a passion for upholding biblical principles. When someone or something is directly opposed to the Bible, Christians should fervently defend and protect Judeo-Christian values. In this age of political shaming, people of integrity are often shunned by society. Words like controversial and radical are used to label those who detest the right things. May the words of 1 Peter 3:15-18 inspire Christians to be willing to suffer by standing up for biblical truth, justice, and the American Way.

by Jay Mankus

Truth and Integrity

Propaganda uses lies, half-truths, innuendo, smears, misinformation, one-sided arguments and inflammatory rhetoric to influence the public’s attitude toward a cause, ideal or, usually, a political agenda. Propaganda is regularly pushed by cable news networks, political lobbyists, and through social media posts. If you scan the headlines on any given day, you will find similar mantras, talking points, and vocabulary to convince the American people what they should believe about a specific issue or policy.

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, Ephesians 6:14.

If a famous talk show host has an expert on to shed light on this hot topic, minds began to be swayed. When another professional in a similar field deviates from this view, the Cancel Culture is willing and able to beat this individual into submission by whatever means necessary. Even if the Science clearly supports this unpopular view, opinions are elevated to fact status so that what one political party wants, one political party gets. This hyper sensitive climate doesn’t leave room for truth or integrity to reside or fit in.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15.

If you use the illustration portrayed by the apostle Paul, all it takes for truth to disappear is for the Belt of Truth to be loosened and taken off. As soon as moral absolutes are stripped away, the is no need for integrity. If everyone is doing what’s right in their own eyes, Judges 21:25, the truth turns to grey until that too soon fades away. Don’t look now, but truth and integrity are like spare change jars at your local convenience store. Until someone is willing to be courageous by taking a stand for God today, Ezekiel 22:30, I’m afraid truth and integrity will disappear like the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. May God inspire believers to stand in the gap daily for integrity and truth.

by Jay Mankus

When You Can’t Be Trusted

When I was in first grade, I spent a week at my Uncle Eddy’s beach house. Each night my whole family walked to a local ice cream parlor for dessert. On one of our last nights there, I begged my parents to allow me to carry the money. At this time in history, $10 was enough to buy a family of five a waffle cone. I don’t remember if I had a hole in my pocket or simply dropped this bill along the way. Whatever happened, I lost the money and lost the trust of my family on the same night.

He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]? – Luke 16:10-12

One of Jesus’ most famous stories is the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30. This is just one of a series of parables that Jesus shares to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven will be like. Meanwhile, Luke records the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. The latter story refers to an individual who had let things slide over time. Like a business on the verge of bankruptcy, this man is forced to act swiftly before losing everything. The moral of this parable is if you can’t be trusted in the little things, God won’t trust you with greater responsibilities in this life.

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more. 23 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [e]blessedness) which your master enjoys. 24 He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain]. 25 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own, Matthew 25:22-25.

The Parable of the Talents is based upon integrity, doing what’s right when no one is looking. Three servants are left in charge of their master’s finances while he is away, not given a specific time table of his return. While a silver talent is equivalent to  $3,924 and a gold talent $228,900, the point of this story is to seize each day on earth by using your God given gifts. If you are wasting these talents or afraid to fail, this is when God will lose faith in you. Since it’s never too late to change, fan into flame your God given gifts today, 2 Timothy 1:6, before the Lord calls you home.

by Jay Mankus

Born to Win

C.S. Lewis defines progress as the process of arriving in his book Mere Christianity. Meanwhile, winning is gaining victory in a contest or competition. If you are a perfectionist like me, you are probably keeping score of your wins and losses daily. However, if life is more like a marathon than a sprint, pacing yourself and participating in strict training is essential for success. If you believe in Romans 8:28-29, then you are born to win.

[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah’s impatience, saying] If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan? – Jeremiah 12:5

If this is your destiny, it’s easy to become overconfident along the way. This complacency often results in poor training habits, becoming out of shape spiritually. The analogy above is designed to illustrate what you can handle and what you can’t. If you aren’t able to be competitive in a race against other men, you won’t have a shot at progressing to the next level. When you’re born to win, just showing up each day won’t get it done.

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; Hebrews 12:5.

Integrity is doing what’s right when nobody is looking. Therefore, being born to win requires added responsibility. The context of the passage above begins with an image of dead Christians, looking down from heaven, cheering you on as you compete in the race of life. The author of Hebrews encourages readers to keep your eyes on the prize, fixated on the cross of Christ. Just like keeping your head up while running maintains your momentum, keeping your eyes on heaven will secure victory in the end, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Integrity Doesn’t Take a Day Off

Daniel spent 70 years in public service while living in exile. Despite being 85 years of age at this point in time, Daniel served in 3 different administrations under 3 kings. Like any successful leader, Daniel developed a daily ritual, praying 3 times a day. This time of reflection enabled Daniel to remember Israel, hoping to return to his native country.

And over them three presidents—of whom Daniel was one—that these satraps might give account to them and that the king should have no loss or damage. Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him over the whole realm, Daniel 6:2-3.

According to the passage above, carefully following God’s laws in a foreign land helped Daniel distinguish himself from the other administrators. Apparently, Daniel didn’t leave his integrity in Jerusalem nor did he allow temptation to influence any thoughts of taking a vacation from his faith. Although the excellent spirit doesn’t specify if this is the Holy Spirit or not, Daniel maintained a positive attitude throughout his exile in Babylon.

Then they came near and said before the king concerning his prohibitory decree, Have you not signed an edict that any man who shall make a petition to any god or man within thirty days, except of you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed or repealed. 13 Then they said before the king, That Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not regard or pay any attention to you, O king, or to the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day, Daniel 6:12-13.

In this day of political correctness, integrity gets Christians into trouble daily. While you won’t end up in a den of lions like Daniel, standing up for God could result in a lost job, losing friends or a slandered reputation via social media. Going against the flow, especially taking a stand that opposes the modern progressive movement will result in outrage. Thus, making sure that integrity doesn’t take a day off requires self-discipline and will power. May Daniel’s example give you the boldness and courage to follow in his footsteps of integrity.

by Jay Mankus

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