Friday, June 20, 2014


"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out." Proverbs 10:9

What is integrity? One dictionary defines integrity as "a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, or incorruptibility; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted." Another dictionary defines integrity as "1) an unimpaired condition, i.e., soundness, wholeness; 2) firm adherence to a code of moral values, i.e., incorruptible, honor; 3) the quality or state of being complete or undivided, i.e., completeness." Synonyms of integrity are honesty and unity. Do these words give you a better sense of the meaning of integrity? The first definition of the second quotation (soundness or wholeness) is most often applied to a structure or a physical object, such as the girders in a bridge, an engine block, or a piece of pottery. Can it be applied to a person as well? Thinking only of the first definition above in the second quotation, what happens to something that does not have integrity?

What does the Bible say about integrity?
  1. Integrity means treating people fairly and honestly. (Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 25:15, Proverbs 16:11-13)
  2. Integrity is giving your word and keeping it. (Exodus 8:28-32)
  3. Integrity will protect you. In Psalm 25, David prays that integrity and uprightness will protect him. How can it? (Psalm 25:21, Proverbs 2:7-8, 10:9, 11:3, 13:6)
  4. Integrity is more valuable than riches. (Proverbs 28:6)
  5. The Lord will test and judge your integrity. (1 Chronicles 29:17, Psalm 7:8)
  6. The Lord hates lies and lack of integrity. (Zechariah 8:16-17)
  7. It may be difficult to maintain your integrity. (Job 2:3, 2:9, Proverbs 29:10)
  8. Your character can be corrupted by bad company. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  9. Integrity will be rewarded. (1 Kings 9:4-5, Nehemiah 7:2, Psalm 41:11-12)
  10. Your integrity should set an example. (Titus 2:7)
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated "integrity" in the Old Testament means "the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness." Integrity in the New Testament means "honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works."

Who do you know that you would describe as a person of integrity? What sets this person apart from other people of a similar age and position?

We frequently think of a man of integrity being honest and trustworthy, but integrity is more than that. Look at the second definition of the second quotation and describe the difference between being trustworthy and being incorruptible.

Jesus is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. Jesus was wholly man and wholly God at the same time, and He was tempted in every way we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. He is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works. As sinful human beings, our integrity is flawed, but Jesus' integrity is perfect. When we are "in Christ," we partake of His divine nature, having been given new natures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature is one of integrity because it is His nature.

The Bible also describes integrity as the truth. What is the truth? Jesus is the only real truth and the only way to attain eternal life. Nobody comes to the Father unless he goes through Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Many times, Jesus prefaced His words by saying, "Truly, I say to you," which, in essence, means "I tell you the truth." Jesus never lied, and His actions defined integrity. Once we come to Christ in faith and repentance, He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who assists us in developing our incorruptible integrity. It is impossible to have real integrity without Jesus as our Lord and Savior. May the Lord give us strong integrity that becomes incorruptible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If people who know you were asked for five words that describe you, would integrity be one of them? What can you do to improve your integrity?

Israel's high regard for Samuel comes as no surprise. Samuel was a man who exuded integrity. Nowhere is this best illustrated than in 1 Samuel 12:1-4:

Samuel said to all Israel, "Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me, and I have appointed a king over you. And now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. Here I am; bear witness against me before the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you."

They replied, "You have not defrauded (cheated) us, or oppressed us, or taken anything from any man's hand."

During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people's response. Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.

Samuel’s honesty and personal integrity permeated every area of his life. These two characteristics directed how he regarded his possessions, his business dealings and his treatment of those who were weaker than himself. Samuel held himself accountable to the people he led. He opened himself up to the scrutiny of everyone with whom he had ever had dealings. As a result of this practice, Samuel’s leadership has become legendary as this story has been told and retold throughout the centuries.

People want to know that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that leaders will keep promises and follow through on commitments. Promises and commitments are significant, though, in our day of Machiavellian ethics, it seems that they have become optional. We often seem more concerned with convenience and performance. We give lip-service to the importance of character, but we have the idea that when things get tough, the rules can be changed and commitments and covenants may be discarded at will.

But the Bible makes clear just how important our covenants are. Throughout the Scriptures, God focuses on the fact that He is a God who makes and keeps His covenants, that He can be trusted (1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 105:8). God can be trusted because He is trustworthy. That's the point: it always comes down to the issue of character, not just words. Biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing; it's a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is how God is. This is how his people should be.

Perhaps a good word to think of is "consistency." There must be consistency between what is inside and what is outside. God is totally consistent. His actions and behaviors always match His character and nature. And His goal for us is nothing less. Christ's objective for His disciples is to make us disciplined people. In the words of John Ortberg, "Disciplined people can do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason." Just like God.

It is possible to live one life publicly and another life privately. That is not integrity; it is an invitation for God's discipline. We are to live with consistency in public and in private, because our Father "sees what is done in secret" (Matthew 6:4). Since this is the case, being faithful in small, secret things is a big deal. It may be the case that God is far less concerned with your public persona than He is in your private character. He may be more concerned with how you manage your personal checking account than how well you administer the books on a big business deal. It is in the small, secret places of self-evaluation that God's grace changes you and shapes you into the image of His Son.

In the end, we become what our desires make us. Who we become reveals what we really desire. If you desire the praise of men, then you will become a certain kind of person. But if you desire the praise of God, then integrity will need to become a priority. As you sense the overwhelming holiness of our Creator, you will understand how unraveled you are. But as you focus on the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you will recognize that even though you may feel undone, you are not undone because He has made you whole. His grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

A man of integrity does what is right because it is right. He does the right thing at the right moment in the right way for the right reason, regardless of the cost to himself. Integrity is the measure of a real man. If he makes a promise to his employer, spouse, children, he keeps it. He does not flake out and make up excuses to let himself off the hook. It takes courage to be a man of integrity—in private, in public, in marriage, in family, in business; it takes absolutely nothing to be a coward. Finding people with integrity these days is like winning the lottery; it is near impossible. What kind of a man/woman are you going to be? One with integrity? Or just another liar amongst the many?