I’ve always believed that constant self-reflection is how we are to continue to grow effectively as people every day and so the subject of integrity is something we’re going to delve deeper into this time around and reflect on and how important it really is.
I think the age in which we are living now, there is no better time in history in which we need people of integrity. We need to continuously ask ourselves am I the person that God wants me to be? I believe the need for integrity today is perhaps so desperately needed more than it ever has been and is so essential if we really want to become people who positively and powerfully impact others. So, let’s talk about what integrity is from a biblical perspective, why it’s important and how we can practice integrity.
What is integrity?
There are many definitions in the dictionary of what integrity is defined as but for the sake of discussion one definition of integrity is ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.’ Now, the sound of that definition sounds pleasing to the heart and I’m sure we’d all like to achieve this but true integrity is so much more than just having a basic set of moral principles.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated ‘integrity’ in the Old Testament, means completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness and wholeness. So, you can see there are an array of different elements that compose the essence of integrity; and who better to observe an example of integrity from than Jesus Christ himself. 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 and break his integrity and corrupt Him. But Jesus was a 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 right there! But of course, as sinful human beings, our integrity is flawed but Jesus’ integrity is perfect and when we are ‘in Christ’ we can greatly partake in His divine nature!
Many people I feel today, view integrity as somewhat of an out-dated idea that is either expendable or no longer applicable in an age of moral relativism. But I also feel for some people the strife to have integrity is honestly there in the back of their minds but unfortunately, is not lived out day to day in their lives. However just as honesty is essential for any healthy relationship, so integrity is essential to becoming trustworthy. We compromise our integrity every time we betray a trust and put our credibility at stake.
A person with biblical integrity knows what’s important to God and consistently lives in light of what is important to Him. It involves more than living our values; it involves subscribing to God’s values and learning with his help, to conform our conduct to those values. I know to have true integrity is hard and it’s incredibly hard to keep up with because we all slip up. We all want to, (or at least I hope we all want to), be consistently honest but we need to know we can’t achieve it fully without God’s help.
I think we forget, because I know that I’ve forgotten multiple times, that integrity is one of the basic elements of Christian character. It is the first characteristic of those welcomed into God’s presence; Psalm 15 1-2 (NLT) says “Who may worship in your sanctuary Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy will? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.”
It’s so important we remember that integrity is not determined by circumstances, based on credentials and most definitely should not be confused with reputation because a person’s reputation is merely the shadow of his character. A good reputation may or may not be an accurate reflection of a person’s character. If you just take care of your character and become a person of integrity, your reputation will take care of itself!
Who are you when no-one’s looking?
Yes, that’s right. Who are you really when no-one’s looking? Integrity has all to do with a sense of consistency between a person’s inner values, attitudes and his outward words and actions. So, if you’re wild as hell Monday to Saturday around your crew but playing the perfect child of God act on Sunday at Church, are you really being honest with yourself because God already knows your heart so who are you fooling? The reason I’m emphasising on integrity specifically is because we as Christians may be the only Bible that people will ever read in their lives so if we are not displaying a certain level of integrity, we are only subjecting ourselves to hypocrisy and they may not go further into their investigation of the Gospel. The way we are consistent in our walk and talk is I believe the most effective way we can show people who Christ is and bring them to Christ.
To put things in context, let’s look at a couple of examples as to what a lack of integrity may look like:
- Inconsistency between a person’s words and actions; saying one thing and doing another – Proverbs 11:3 (NIV) says“the integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
- Inconsistency between one’s values on one side and one’s words/actions on the other. This will ultimately result from saying/doing what we think others want to hear to please them. (Luke 6:31)
- Inconsistency in just every area to be honest. Just no consistency/integrity among a person’s values, words, and actions.
So, the common denominator here is inconsistency. We all have values we live by whether we are conscious of them or not. Our values energise out motives which ultimately drive our actions. But the important thing is that we consciously choose to live by God’s values in scripture. I really believe that Godly integrity should not be something we throw to the back of our minds and break out on a rainy day. It should be the core of who we are! It helps us to seek to relate to each other in humility and love. It helps us to learn to listen, speak the truth in love, handle disagreement, receive correction, confess sin, appreciate the concept of wisdom and understand people’s point of view even if we don’t agree with them. [Proverbs 10:9]
So how can we develop and maintain integrity?
Firstly, we can learn to be honest with others but most of all honest with ourselves. There is importance in acknowledging what is going on in our hearts when we are caught up amid inner turmoil and struggle. It is emotionally and spiritually damaging to ignore or deny our true feelings. It is great to have a positive approach to life, but true Christian living first involves facing things realistically – no matter how negative they may be. How can you know what you need to be positive about until you have clearly seen what is troubling you? To try and be positive without bringing into clear focus what is wrong is like building a house on sand. No matter how much cement is poured into the foundations, when a storm comes, it will sink without trace. [Matthew 7:24-27]
Secondly, God’s standards must become our standards; his values must become our values. We must learn to love what he loves and hate what he hates.
Thirdly, we must develop genuine humility. Not self-deprecation, but Godly humility; but the difference between those, is a discussion for another day! Fundamentally, it’s having that attitude of ‘what you see is what you get’ and that we aren’t pretending to be someone we are not.
I will say that I fully realise that the road to integrity is not an easy one but I strongly believe it’s the only road worth traveling on because it’s the only one that I believe ultimately takes you where you want to go even if you can’t see how short term. I think, that integrity is one of the most important Godly characteristics that dictates how we handle situations. Some would say ‘but we all are inherently dishonest people!” Well, why can’t we challenge the status quo? You’d be surprised how honesty displayed in love can be easy when it becomes a Godly habit that becomes ingrained in our lives by consistently thinking, saying and doing the right thing. None of us are sinless, but over time with God’s grace, we all need to strive to make progress in sinning less which will ultimately translate into greater consistency in doing the right thing. [Philippians 4:8]
I wholeheartedly believe that if we are persons of character and integrity, we have the amazing opportunity to add value to the lives of others and ours. If others know we are a person of integrity, they don’t have to worry about our motives or worry whether we mean what we are saying or if we will carry it out to fruition!
2 Corinthians 8:21 (NLT) says “We are careful to be honourable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honourable.”
So I pray that each and every one of you will be transformed by God’s grace and to live your days filled with God-like integrity.
Till next time, Roch x