August 15, 2019
Honesty is much desired in our generation. We clamor for honest government officials and long for honest friends. Maybe we even pray that we ourselves can be more honest.
But our desire for honesty is often confused with the need for integrity. Integrity and honesty are not the same thing, however closely linked they may be.
I can clearly remember one particular day in first grade Math class. Our teacher was testing our ability to divide whole numbers. I had less problems adding and subtracting. I also got good grades in my other subjects. But I couldn’t understand division. My seatmate, on the other hand, was a Math whiz (at least in my eyes). She was solving the problem set with ease. She was also sort of my friend. If you’re following this story, then you would be able to guess what happened next. She let me copy all her answers. I tried to be discreet about it, but our eagle-eyed teacher caught us. She asked me if I was cheating, and I had no choice but to be honest. Needless to say, I got a zero on that test and never cheated again or allowed anyone to cheat from me, ever.
I spoke the truth. I didn’t lie because I already got caught. I was honest, but I lacked integrity.
You see, integrity means “incorruptibility.” It’s deciding to do the right thing in God’s eyes, even when it’s inconvenient, it’s difficult, or when no one is watching. It means holding fast to biblical truth, not straying to the left or to the right, even if it costs us our reputation, our position, or in my case, a passing grade. Proverbs 19:1 says, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.”
I knew it was wrong to cheat. But what I knew didn’t translate to action, and I only admitted my wrongdoing because I got caught.
A dishonest person is someone who knows the truth but says another thing. To lie when you know the truth is a serious offense against Jesus (1 John 2:20–22). Honesty is very important to God, but so is integrity. He calls us to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We can know this truth and speak this truth, but acting according to this truth is a whole other thing.
A biblical meaning of integrity is “completeness.” This means that our words and our actions aren’t divided, but are in accordance with one another. Proverbs 11:3 warns us, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Duplicity here is the opposite of integrity. It is deception, saying one thing while feeling and acting another way.
When others realize that we are not walking our Christian talk, they may be turned off by how we represent Christ. Duplicity has damaging consequences to our relationships with God and with other people. But thank God, He enables us to walk with integrity.
Have you ever met someone who said one thing and did another thing? I do, and I see her every day whenever I look at the mirror. So I pray this every day: “May God help me walk the talk!” And may I readily repent and obey Him when He points out that I am not doing so!
All of us have failed in the area of integrity. There’s only one person who walked in complete honesty and integrity, and that person is Jesus Christ. We need to admit our weakness to God, confess our wrongdoing, and receive His forgiveness and grace through Jesus.
Every day, we can read God’s Word, so we can learn from Him and be changed by Him. We can be in faith and ask help from the Holy Spirit so we can bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Integrity is not just a character trait reserved for those in public office or religious positions. It’s a gift from God to all Christians, and it’s something worth pursuing every day.
Psalm 41:12 says, “Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.” As Christians, our lives should be marked by our Master. Integrity distinguishes us as recipients of God’s grace and favor.
May we walk in integrity through His grace every day.