“Behold the Upright!”
Psalm 37:37: “Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.”
Over the past few years, it has been heartbreaking to see a growing number of Christian leaders, musicians, and even pastors, who have fallen from their very public positions of leadership because of hidden sin, now made public. As Christians, our response should be to pray for healing, for the effects of sin to be dealt with, and for redemption to come to those who have brought shame to the name of Christ through their actions and behavior. Yet, these spiritual tragedies should also serve as good reminders to us that we are called and commanded to be upright in our behavior as those who belong to Christ.
As I think about the call to be “upright”, how are we to understand this important word? In biblical terms, upright means that which is correct, straight, genuine, and forthright. To be upright is to be correct in one’s thinking, actions, plans, decisions, and attitudes. Numerous promises in the Scriptures are given to those who are described as upright. In these days of moral compromise, where increasing pressures are on the believer to conform to the world’s standards of morality, it is good for us to be reminded of how important it is to be upright before a watching world. In this issue of The Contact, I will use the acronym SAINT to help us better understand this word.
S stands for sanctification. Sanctification is another word for holiness. Our God is a holy God, and He commands us to become like him (1 Pet. 1:15-16). There are two main meanings of the word sanctification. The first one is to be set apart for a holy purpose. In Christ, we have been set apart for service in the Kingdom of God (1 Pet. 2:9). The second meaning is to become holy in our state of being. As we grow in Christ, we become more and more holy in our actual practice. These 2 meanings work together. Grounded in our position of holiness in Christ, who is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30), we are to become holy in our practice through the power of Christ (2 Cor. 7:1). The one who would be upright in the Lord must first be a person of sanctification. Are you growing in holiness in your own life?
A stands for adoration. Adoration of the Living God should mark our lives as Christians. To adore God is to worship Him, to love Him, to sing praises to Him, to prioritize Him as the first thing in our life. We are commanded to worship Him. “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (Ps. 29:2). The angels of heaven worship regularly at the throne of God (Rev. 4:8-11). They worshipped Jesus at the time of His birth (Heb. 1:6) and will do so forevermore (Rev. 5:11-12). We should follow their example, living as an offering of worship and praise to our God. An upright person is one who worships God as a way of life. The words, “O, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” should spring from our lips all year round. As we worship and adore God as He really is, we become like him. Therefore, we will become more upright, even as He is upright (Ps. 25:8).
I stands for integrity. To be a person of integrity is to have no inconsistency or contradiction in one’s thinking, behavior, attitude, and speech. When someone is a person of integrity, he means what he says and says what he means. He does what he promises and is trustworthy in his actions. When I was a seminary professor preparing students to become ministers of the Gospel, I told them that the most important thing in their ministry was their integrity. Integrity, I told them, is the foundation of everything they do in life and ministry. If they give up or lose that, they disqualify themselves from ministry and are no longer to be trusted with the things of God. The upright person fights to live a life of integrity. He protects what goes into his heart and mind, and watches over what proceeds from his mouth. Integrity is the foundation of uprightness.
N stands for nobility. In this context, nobility is defined as exalted moral character or excellence. Our Living God, who is the King of the universe, expects His children to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of God (Phil. 1:27). Thus, the life of the upright person will reflect moral excellence, good character, and sound thinking, resulting in a good reputation with those both inside and outside of the church. It is not often enough that we talk about the importance of moral character in the life of the believer, but it is something that is to be fought for and strived after every second of every day that God grants to us (Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:5-8).
T stands for truth. Our God is a God of truth (Jn. 3:33). He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate expression of divine truth (Jn. 1:17; 14:6). Together, the Father and the Son sent the Spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17, 27), who has given us the Bible, which is the trustworthy revelation of God (Jn. 17:17). The Spirit and the Word both point to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6). Thus, the one who is upright has his life grounded in the truth, directed by the truth, transformed by the truth, and saturated with the truth. The upright man is one who is not only in the Word of God, but has the Word of God in him. As a result, he is becoming more like Jesus in all that he does.
To be a Christian is a high and holy calling. The God who called us out of darkness and into the light of His Son (Col. 1:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:9) now commands us to walk in a manner worthy of him (Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10). In other words, we are called to be upright people. Now, of course, we understand that this can only be done in Christ and through Christ. He has mercifully and wonderfully walked this upright life before us. He alone has qualified us to be the children of God. Yet, He also is the One who commands us to walk in an upright manner. To do so, we must live as a SAINT, by His grace and for His glory. Brothers and sisters, may we take seriously the command to walk in an upright manner in a world that is turned upside-down because of its sin and rebellion. Those around us are watching. And so is He!