Protecting Our Integrity

Habakkuk 2:10 CEV

‘But you will bring shame on your family and ruin to yourself for what you did to others.’

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What a Horrible Verse for Today!

When I first read that verse, my reaction was, “What can I tell my readers that will encourage them, with a verse like that?” Then I remembered an incident that happened to my wife and me a short time ago. 

We were approached by a fellow Christian for a substantial loan to enable him to purchase an item for his business. Now, financially, we live from moment to moment. We don’t have money to lend out. Yet, strangely, we had just received a gift of money which was still in our bank account. We intended to put it away into savings until we needed it, which we knew would be in a short time.

Our initial reaction was, “No way! We need this money!” But then we remembered the words of Jesus.

“When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them.” (Matthew 5:42 CEV)

What did this say to us? After much discussion and prayer, we agreed to loan him the amount he required, trusting his promise that he would repay us by the end of the week.

Well, the end of the week arrived but no funds were forthcoming. A further week passed. Eventually, we had to contact him and subsequently his wife, asking him where the money was. By this time, we needed it.

Each time, we were assured it was on its way. He had our bank details, and the money would be there “tomorrow”. But, as we all know, tomorrow often never comes.

Finally, we sent him an email message stating that because he had not kept his promise, we needed to take the matter further. No reply. Then a friend took it to Social Media, and, suddenly, the money was repaid. No apology or explanation. But we got our money back.

As far as we were concerned, his integrity was severely damaged, his firm’s name brought into disrepute, and he brought shame to his wife. Even more serious, he brought damage to his Christian witness. It has also taught us a hard lesson. One we will not be repeating!

Failed Promises

  • Have you had a similar situation where someone made a promise which they did not fulfil? How did you deal with the situation?
  • How would you deal with a situation where a friend and colleague makes a sincere promise, only to renegue on it?

God declares, “But if you don’t keep your promise, you will sin against the LORD and be punished.” (Numbers 32:23 CEV)

“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” (Psalm 37:21) Share on X

Family Shame

We noted in the last study that there is such a thing as a lawful gain, where God brings comfort and encouragement to a family. We also saw how those who wrong others in their efforts to gain finances do far greater harm to their souls. Makes you think, doesn’t it? What harm did our friend do to his soul in the process of attempting to defraud us?

People who attempt to fraudulently deceive others and hope to get away with it, are fooling themselves. They are undermining their witness as Christians, and they disgrace themselves and their family.

  • Can you recall a situation where someone has brought shame to your family by their actions?
  • Have you forgiven them? What does God’s Word tell us to do?

“Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.  ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ (Romans 12:19 MSG)

I have to admit, when we tried to get that money back, we were thinking of the finances we needed. We weren’t worried about the man’s soul, or the shame he was bringing upon his family.

But having done all we could to straighten things out, we could then leave it in God’s hands. He would deal with the offender.

The Roadblock of Shame

  • Can you think of other situations where the actions of one person have put others in a poor light?

The Bible Commentator, James Burton Coffman, has this to say:

“By riding rough-shod over weaker and less fortunate people, the Babylonians thought they were building their own security; but actually they were destroying it…. Sin always has a violent recoil impacting upon the sinner himself.”  (Commentary on Habakkuk 2:10. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible)

Not only does our sin affect ourselves and humiliate our family and others, but it most certainly harms our relationship with God.
The prophet, Isaiah, tells us,
Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers…..” (Isaiah 59:2 CEV)
That’s quite a thought, isn’t it? When we are faced with a time of unanswered prayer, it would be worth us searching our hearts. Have we done something to harm another, perhaps without intent?

Honesty Rewarded

Shame causing harm to our relationship with others as well as with God is the bad news. But there is also good news through God’s amazing grace:
“I, the LORD, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 CEV)  
God invites us to be open and honest with Him. And He rewards our honesty and true repentance.
“But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” (1 John 1:9 GNB)

Setting the Record Straight

Let’s forget other people’s sins for now. How about us? Is there some unconfessed sin that is marring our fellowship with God?
If you realise there is a problem, don’t waste time. Do all you can to put things right. Then be open and honest with God and seek his forgiveness.


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.