I aimed at being careful of my integrity in all dealings, so that the unbelievers should not catch me out in any detail, and so that I would not in the smallest matter give a pretext to them to disparage or denigrate the ministry of my service.
- Patrick, Confession (British, 5th century)
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
- Colossians 4.5
What does it mean to be "careful" of our "integrity", or to conduct ourselves wisely, especially toward unbelievers?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, thus, we are careful to act wisely when we conduct our lives toward the Lord, fearing in any way to offend against Him.
Wisdom is what comports with God's Word. We are careful of our integrity, therefore, when we bring our lives into line with the teaching of Scripture, in every aspect of our lives, within and without.
Christ is all the treasury of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2.3), so when we are living like Jesus we are being careful about our integrity and acting in wisdom.
The works of God also reflect His wisdom (Job 28.23-28). The more we understand about the beauty, patterns, goodness, power, and glory of God in creation, the greater is the likelihood we will walk in wisdom before the unbelieving world.
Being wise and careful about our integrity is a full-time job. Our natural bent is toward selfishness and sin. If we're going to act any way other than that, we'll have to work at it. We'll need friends to encourage and pray for us. We should have some means in place of reviewing how we use our time - whether for wisdom of folly (Eph. 5.15-17) - and of making adjustments as needed. We must plan carefully and prepare well (Ps. 90.12).
No, it's not easy to keep up our integrity and live in wisdom toward unbelievers, but it is the calling of every single one of us who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the first line of our witness to world, the leading edge of the Gospel and the Kingdom. We must live credibly - indeed, beyond credibly, commendably - if we would have our words to be taken seriously.
Study to be wise, then live wisely in all things. Opportunities for talking about Jesus will follow, and your witness will be more believable as your life is filled with integrity.
T. M. Moore, Principal