Years ago I had a pastor that preached along these lines of keeping your integrity and credibility in tact. It is not just leaders that are satan’s prey to this, but Christians in general. Once you have publicly lost your witness, it is next to impossible to reach the heights you had flown before. My pastor put it like this, when a bird breaks its wing, even though it is treated and heals it never flies as high as it did before.
In Proverbs it tells us a good name is greater to be had than riches! This doesn’t mean we go making a reputation for ourselves, but our actions and REACTIONS will speak for themselves! If you are an angry person who lets it fly all over the nearest person or persons around you, your reputation will be established as someone easily angered and temperamental. Whatever the attitude you carry and give into the greatest part of the time will be who you are known to be by those around you.
When the Lord first gave me this, He reminded me of Saul. Saul had gone to destroy, according to God‘s instruction, the people of Amalek. Saul did not obey God because he was more interested in people pleasing instead of keeping his integrity in tact and staying in obedience to what God said. The results were disastrous!
It tells us in 1 Samuel 15 what Saul was told to do and what he decided on his own to do!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 Samuel told Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and heed the words of the Lord.
2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, I have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when [Israel] came out of Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
4 So Saul assembled the men and numbered them at Telaim—200,000 men on foot and 10,000 men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to the city of Amalek and laid wait in the valley.
6 Saul warned the Kenites, Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt.
8 And he took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, though he utterly destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword.
9 Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but all that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed utterly.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying,
11 I regret making Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not performed My commands. And Samuel was grieved and angry [with Saul], and he cried to the Lord all night.
12 When Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, he was told, Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up for himself a monument or trophy [of his victory] and passed on and went down to Gilgal.
13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, Blessed are you of the Lord. I have performed what the Lord ordered.
14 And Samuel said, What then means this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said to Saul, Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me tonight. Saul said to him, Say on.
17 Samuel said, When you were small in your own sight, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed you king over Israel?
18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites; and fight against them until they are consumed.
19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but swooped down upon the plunder and did evil in the Lord’s sight?
20 Saul said to Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag king of Amalek and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
24 And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
The very thing Saul sought to preserve, his position, his popularity with the people, was taken away due to disobedience to God! You see Saul got his priorities very much out-of-order! He knew the congregation would be voting again, he had to keep them happy! What if he upset someone and corrected the wrong person getting himself voted out….after all jobs are scarce and he had a family to support! These are decisions based on fear, NOT faith in God!! He couldn’t make anyone mad. Why, isn’t it the leaders place to keep everyone happy and to keep peace? We are called to keep peace, are we not? Not at the risk of sin infiltrating a person’s life or your church! This is cowardice vs. integrity by obeying the Word of God!
It is never a good idea to please people over God. When Saul did this he was stripped of everything!! His place as king, his peace of mind, his favor with God, and eventually his life and the life of his son, Jonathon! We are called to serve in love not be popular!
What happens when a leader or a Christian deliberately sins and keeps fearful attitudes? Those who are motivated by their own agendas? They lose not only their credibility, but they forfeit the great richness of God’s anointing and the future that was so brilliant they had no idea what laid before them it was so unfathomably great! Nothing, my precious reader, is worth so high a price!
When you begin to fear people, you have fallen into a snare or a trap. You begin to be your voice and your leader. You begin to fall back into human reasoning as Saul did. Were not these sheep good for sacrifice he had said? He reasoned it all out, and excused his disobedience to God because he could make it sound good! Hopefully, Samuel and GOD would buy it! How foolish!
The very thing you seek to protect by your means instead of God’s means and instruction you will SURELY LOSE! I hear this so clearly from the Holy Spirit! Does it have your name on it? If so, consider yourself warned! God does not want to see your fall! Stop offering up excuses! God will not take them! Obedience is better than sacrifice! In other words, if you will do what God says, even when you it looks as though it can’t work out, you won’t have to sacrifice. You won’t have to repent, sacrifice your career, your family, or your dreams!
God is looking for men and women of obedience; simple obedience. Can He find that in you? Can it be found in me? It must be!! The alternatives are by far incomprehensible! Be a man or woman after God’s own heart! This takes loving Him and His way more than you love your own agenda! Loving Him more than you care what others think of you! Loving Him more than so-called man’s success standard! Loving Him and His word more than you love your own life!! Have faith in Him to accomplish what no other can, including yourself! When you do you will see you are a man or woman after God’s own heart!! Dreams you have yet to dream will begin to form in your life! More than anything, you will draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to you because He can TRUST YOU!!!! You don’t rely on those to do your work that are untrustworthy!! Do you think God will??
Blessings to you, dear reader. GO WITH GOD and GOD WILL GO WITH YOU!! You will NOT regret it!!
13 In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they were ministering to[a] the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed God’s message in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God’s message. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (this is the meaning of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 Then Saul—also called Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer 10 and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Now, look! The Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time.” Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
13 Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. John, however, left them and went back to Jerusalem. 14 They continued their journey from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any message of encouragement for the people, you can speak.”
16 Then Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors, exalted the people during their stay in the land of Egypt, and led them out of it with a mighty[b] arm. 18 And for about 40 years He put up with them[c] in the wilderness; 19 then after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave their land to them as an inheritance. 20 This all took about 450 years. After this, He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for 40 years. 22 After removing him, He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man loyal to Me,[d] who will carry out all My will.’
23 “From this man’s descendants, according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus,[e] to Israel. 24 Before He came to public attention,[f] John had previously proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 Then as John was completing his life’s work, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I am not the One. But look! Someone is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the sandals on His feet.’
26 “Brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us. 27 For the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers, since they did not recognize Him or the voices of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled their words[g] by condemning Him. 28 Though they found no grounds for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have Him killed. 29 When they had fulfilled all that had been written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and put Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead, 31 and He appeared for many days to those who came with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people. 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our ancestors. 33 God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:
34 Since He raised Him from the dead, never to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings[j] made to David.[k] 35 Therefore He also says in another passage, You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay.[l] 36 For David, after serving his own generation in God’s plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed. 37 But the One God raised up did not decay. 38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, 39 and everyone who believes in Him is justified from everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses. 40 So beware that what is said in the prophets does not happen to you:
41 Look, you scoffers, marvel and vanish away, because I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will never believe, even if someone were to explain it to you.”[m]
42 As they[n] were leaving, the people[o] begged that these matters be presented to them the following Sabbath. 43 After the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
44 The following Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the message of the Lord.[p] 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to oppose what Paul was saying by insulting him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: “It was necessary that God’s message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles! 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women, who worshiped God, and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But they shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
The Damascus Road
9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest 2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 “Who are You, Lord?” he said.
“I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied. 6 “But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9 He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.
10 There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Here I am, Lord!” he said.
11 “Get up and go to the street called Straight,” the Lord said to him, “to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there. 12 In a vision[a] he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so he can regain his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for My name!”
17 So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
18 At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 And after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul Proclaiming the Messiah
Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days. 20 Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”
21 But all who heard him were astounded and said, “Isn’t this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul grew more capable and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah.
23 After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the wall.
Saul in Jerusalem
26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[b] but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brothers found out, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers.
The Healing of Aeneas
32 As Peter was traveling from place to place,[c] he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed,”[d] and immediately he got up. 35 So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Dorcas Restored to Life
36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas.[e] She was always doing good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And Peter stayed on many days in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.[f]