The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one's after them; honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions. (Pr. 28:1)
We have nothing to fear when we live our lives with integrity. It is better to live in a way that reveals plain motives, clear actions, and continuously consistent standards by which we live. When our lives are "honest" - we are relaxed and confident, having a boldness that permeates our entire being. Integrity is a state of being whole - no fragmentation in our walk. In other words, it is the ability to say what we mean and mean what we say - our actions lining up with our words consistently. When we examine the meaning of being honest, we find that the writer had in mind our principles, intentions and actions - all showing uprightness and fairness. It means that we are genuine - genuine people are respected and there is a boldness of character that is evident in their transparency.
Practice God's law—get a reputation for wisdom; hang out with a loose crowd—embarrass your family. (Pr. 28:7)
I think the writer of this Proverb wants us to come to understanding that we cannot go wrong when we are living by the right standards. The standards we pattern our life choices after must be those revealed in God's Word. These are the only standards that have remained consistent over the ages and been proven to have the ability to produce an uprightness of character that the writer calls a "reputation for wisdom". Contrasting two views is often the mode of explaining the advantages of making wise choices - do this, get that. The writer of this Proverb indicates that wise choices - living by the right standard as revealed in the Word - yields a reputation we can definitely enjoy, feel "relaxed" in. On the other hand, living by the standards of the world - the loose crowd - brings embarrassment into our lives.
He goes on a little later in this passage to tell us that God has no use for the prayers of those that will not listen to him. Look at that carefully - it is a choice to NOT listen. It never says God stops talking to them - it simply says they stop listening. We cannot attain the uprightness of character God desires for us to have without choosing to listen to his wise counsel. If you read a little further, there is a striking statement about not being able to "white-wash" our sins and get away with it. The contrasting statement is that when we admit our sins and turn away from them, we find the mercy we so desperately deserve. We can try as we might to "dress up" our sin - we will never change our reputation with a "cover up". It will never produce a freedom of action that allows us stand bold. There is more value in dealing with sin than there ever will be in covering it up. It "adds" value to our lives to seek mercy - it takes it away to cover up sin.
God values the man or woman who pursues life with a passion. We have a responsibility to apply ourselves well to the work we do - whether it is the physical labors of our day or the spiritual pursuits of our quiet time with God. Both lend value to our lives, but nothing purifies us, gives us right standing, and a relaxed ability to stand strong more than our "alone time" with God. It is there that integrity is built. It need not be hours and hours of time - it begins in the small moments of yielded thought, open heart, and seeking spirit. Begin today to ask God to make you a man or woman of integrity! You will be taking the first step toward being truly "relaxed" and "confident" in your walk.