The men in our family are avid football fans. It is not an uncommon malady in the American male. And no matter how many games you’ve watched, there is one highlight that never ceases to be exciting – when the quarterback lofts a long pass downfield to a receiver who leaps into the air to catch it. Unfortunately, as dramatic as those catches are, they don’t all count. Because sometimes the pass receiver steps out of bounds in the process of bringing in that pass. That’s why those players try every kind of twisting and turning imaginable to stay in bounds. Because it doesn’t matter how impressive the play is – if you’re out of bounds, it just doesn’t count.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about “Immovable Boundaries”.
Staying “in bounds” at all costs – that’s not just good football...that’s integrity – refusing to go out of bounds morally, no matter what. Because as far as God is concerned, it doesn’t matter how impressive the play is – if you go out of His bounds, it just doesn’t count.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently, you’re probably faced with temptations to compromise your integrity over and over again. To tell something less than the truth...to cut corners ethically...to do something financially that is less than honest...to compromise your purity for someone you care about...or to watch or listen to or laugh at things Jesus would never be a part of. For all of us who feel that pull to make the play by going out of bounds, there is some powerful encouragement in the life of Nehemiah, the man God chose to lead His people in the amazing rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and gates.
In our word for today from the Word of God, Nehemiah is now the governor of the city. He has an opportunity to use his position to his own advantage, but against a background of people who are exploiting their own people, Nehemiah is a glowing model of integrity. In Nehemiah 5:14, he says, “Neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. But the earlier governors – those preceding me – placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God, I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall...we did not acquire any land.”
Nehemiah’s predecessors had done it...many of the people he governed had done it...but Nehemiah refused to exploit his position. He had immovable boundaries, even when it would have benefited him greatly to compromise them just a little.
On the job application of one of our new Team members, I was impressed with three little words that described his “reason for leaving” his last job. His department insisted on continuing some unethical practices to which he had objected – but, in his character-revealing words, “I could not.” While this man has an impressive resume and some great abilities, that integrity was what impressed me most. It’s what impresses God the most – and qualifies you for His greatest blessings.
Compromise may be the order of the day around you – but, “in reverence for God”, will you say, “I cannot.” Compromise might get you ahead, maybe give you something you really want – will you, for God’s sake, say, “But I cannot.”
Immoveable boundaries – the heart of a man or woman God can trust, God can bless. As far as your Lord is concerned, if it isn’t inside His boundaries, it just doesn’t count.
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