A man who stands straight is not afraid of a crooked shadow

This Chinese proverb teaches us the importance of integrity and a clear conscience. A crooked shadow holds no concern to a man who is standing straight. The shadow has no impact on his posture, and thus he has nothing to fear. Similarly, a man who walks uprightly need not be afraid because crooked accusations will ultimately hold no water.

A true believer knows that he is accountable to the Lord. The Lord will try the hearts of all men, and the man of integrity will be vindicated. “The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defence is of God, which
saveth the upright in heart.” (Ps. 7:8-10)

If one has done nothing wrong before the Lord, what is there to be afraid? Thus, Psalm 84:11 assures us, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Just as the sun showers the earth with its light, so the Lord showers us with the light of His Word. His favour is upon all who maintain their integrity before Him. There is also mention of the shield, which talks about the Lord’s protection. Indeed, no one can touch the Christian without the Lord’s permission. Ultimately, there is no one who can take away a Christian’s salvation. Thus, a man who walks uprightly before the Lord has nothing to fear.

On the other hand, a man with crooked posture can try to fix his shadow, but that will do nothing to solve the chief problem. His body is still bent. Similarly, a wicked man may try to put on a religious front and to cover the tracks of his wicked deeds. However, he will never stand before the scrutiny of the Divine Judge. A crooked man has everything to fear no matter how he fixes his shadow. “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” (Prov. 11:3)

As a follow-up, we have the Chinese saying “有理走遍天下,无理寸步难行” – one can go anywhere if truth is on his side, but he cannot take one step without the truth. The English equivalent is this – not might is right but right is might. Without the truth, we would not have salvation. Without the truth, it is impossible to please God. Thus, a Christian ought to say, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” (2 Cor. 13:8)

Sadly, we live in a society where one can so easily give up his integrity for convenient gain. This is the scourge of situational ethics which has crept into the church. Men fear many things except losing their integrity. They are willing to live with a stained conscience, believing that God will not judge. This is foolish thinking for the Lord knows everything. Are we therefore walking uprightly before the Lord?

When three men are united, even clay will turn to gold

Unity is strength (i.e. 团结就是力量). A group of united people can achieve great things. However, a disunited band of men is a recipe for disaster.

Some clarifications must be made before we proceed. Before the Lord, any unity outside of the truth is evil and is bound to fail. One example is the global movement to build the tower of Babel. In those days, the whole earth spoke one language. Led by an ecumenical spirit to rebel against the Lord, the people began encouraging one another, “Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly… Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” The result of this abominable unity was judgement from the Lord who confounded the people with multiple tongues so that they may be scattered.

The lesson to draw from this is the importance of the basis of our unity. If a local church’s unity is based on social activities, human relationships or engaging in worldliness, they may be outwardly happy, but this false unity will ultimately crumble before the Lord. The unity of God’s people must always be in the truth of God’s Word.

When men band together for the truth, the Lord will bless them richly to accomplish His will. How happy were the merry men of David when they strove together for the battle of the Lord! And thus it is the case with all local churches today. When all serve humbly and joyfully with the gifts which the Lord has given to us, the Lord can use us mightily for the extension of His kingdom.

What then is the cause of disunity in churches? Herein is another Chinese saying, “道不同,不相为谋” (i.e. men of different principles cannot work together). “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) When there are those who do not want to walk in the same principles of the Scriptures despite claims of the contrary, there will be clashes and fights. Thus was the case of the Corinthian church with their partisan spirit and petty fights.

On the other hand, when Christians mind the same things, the Lord will bless this unity for His glory. This unity is indeed hard to find and can only come from the Lord. Thus, the Psalmist praises this unity in Psalm 133. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:5-6) Let us be a united people of God in the truth.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew