It was D. L. Moody who said, "Character is what you are in the dark." When there is no one to impress, that's when true character, or integrity, is revealed.
Humorist Will Rogers understood the meaning of integrity when he said, "So live that you would not mind selling your pet parrot to the town gossip."
How much influence can a person of integrity really have on others? If we look at the example of Moses, we discover that a little character can go a long way. As long as Moses was around, his influence was so profound and significant that it kept people from doing the wrong thing.
After Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt and God miraculously saved them from Pharaoh's armies at the Red Sea, He began to lead them in a very clear and obvious way. During the day, He provided a cloud. When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. At night, a pillar of fire led them in the same way. God provided for their physical needs as well. Every morning, there would be fresh manna waiting for them for breakfast. God faithfully provided it every day. All they had to do was gather it up and enjoy it.
The Israelites were surrounded by miracles and God's supernatural leading, yet in a relatively short period of time, they turned to idolatry. Their problem came down to one thing: the shallowness and superficiality of their faith. It was as though their relationship with God depended on Moses’ presence. They never seemed to develop a relationship with God of their own. While this is a wonderful tribute to the influence of a godly man, it is also a criticism of their lack of personal faith. Their relationship with God depended upon Moses' relationship with God, and that is never a spiritually healthy thing to do.
It is true that God can and will use people in our lives, but here is the problem: even the greatest men and women of God have the potential to fall. If you look to people, you will be disappointed ultimately. We must never let people take the place of God in our lives. We must look to Him, because He will never let us down.
When Moses temporarily left the Israelites to go up to Mount Sinai and receive God's commandments, everything fell apart. As soon as he was gone, they began looking for something to take his place. Hence, the plans for the golden calf began. This ultimately led to a pathetic scene of sexual immorality and full-tilt idol worship.
We can't really blame Moses because, in his defense, it was his personal godliness and integrity that had kept them in check up to this point. That is pretty amazing when you consider that Moses was leading more than two million people. It reminds us that God can do a lot with a little.
Maybe you are the only committed Christian in your family. When you get together for family reunions, you are the minority. Or perhaps you are the only Christian at your workplace. Maybe you are the only Christian in your classroom or neighborhood. It can be so awkward and uncomfortable. Often, we want to get out of situations like these. But did you ever stop to think that God put you where you are to be a godly influence?
That is what Moses was. Imagine how hard it must have been for him. These people were filled with unbelief and constantly whined and complained. But through his personal integrity and godliness, he influenced them for good. How we need more people like him who will make a difference in the lives of those around them.
In Ezekiel 22:30, God said, " 'So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one' " (NKJV). God is still looking for men and women who will stand in the gap and serve as godly influences in this world.
Are you seeking to be an influence on those around you right now? If someone were to interview people who really knew you well, what would they say about you? Would they say that you are a man or woman of God?
God help us to be men and women of integrity.