Those who know me know that I am HUGE football fan and an even HUGER fan of the Washington Redskins. It’s now been three days since their painful loss to the Seahawks in the playoffs so I feel like I am finally ready to come out of hiding and talk about football once again (but not the Redskins yet – the healing process takes time).
I will however talk about another football game I saw this past weekend – one that didn’t involve my beloved Redskins. In this particular game, I saw one of the greatest catches I have seen in a long time. It was one of those “jump out of your seat” kind of plays. The quarterback dropped back, avoided the defenders and then threw a long pass to a receiver who leaped to make a beautiful catch. The play was incredibly graceful and extraordinarily athletic.
But there was a problem – it didn’t count. It didn’t count because he went out of bounds. In the process of hauling in that pass, the receiver stepped out of bounds and thereby nullified the play. In football, you often see players twisting and turning in amazing ways to stay in bounds.
Because no matter how impressive the play is – if you’re out of bounds, it just doesn’t count.
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 doesn’t count.
Unless you live in a cave, you’re probably faced with temptations to compromise your integrity all the time. To tell something less than the truth... to cut corners ethically... to do something financially that is less than honest...or to compromise your purity.
Let me share a verse with you from the life of one of my favorite Old Testament characters, Joseph. Joseph had been made overseer over the house of Potiphar [a wealthy and prestigious man]. He had power and authority. He could’ve used that for personal gain, but instead he stands tall as a model of integrity.
When once his master’s wife tried to seduce him to sin with her, he said:
“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9
Wow! Now that is staying in bounds! He could have easily sinned with her and no one would’ve known. In fact, it would have saved him from having to go to jail. Most likely, this wasn’t the first time Potiphar’s wife had seduced a house servant. Everyone knew the routine – give in to her, enjoy your time and then keep your mouth shut. That was the standard operating procedure.
But not for Joseph. He knew that God was watching and that is why he stood tall. He didn’t care about the earthly consequences because he knew that God was with him. His only concern was being pleasing to God. He had immovable boundaries, even when it would have benefited him greatly to compromise them just a little.
Being a person of integrity is what God is looking for. It makes us bless-able in His sight. One of my favorite verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9:
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”
God still searches today for a man/woman who is willing to stay in bounds at all costs – someone to live by integrity. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to stay in bounds?
For discussion: think about the “boundary lines” that you are often tempted to cross – what can you do differently today to help you stay in bounds?