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Integrity Is a Gift to Our Self


Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

I want to speak on integrity this week. A few words are often associated with integrity, including honesty and righteousness. They are all similar but different. Honesty is defined as the quality of being truthful, sincere, and free of deceit with our words. Righteousness is the quality or state of being holy, pure, and upright. Righteousness is about being right with God, honesty is about telling the truth, and integrity goes beyond both of those. It is about being true to God, ourself, and others, and doing what is right in all circumstances. Integrity exhibits core values that never change over time – honesty, loyalty, respect, faith, compassion, and dedication

The word integrity comes from the Latin word integritas, which means “wholeness, completeness, purity,” and integritas comes from “in” meaning “not” and a root related to tangere “touch”. So integrity means untouched. Someone with integrity remains not touched, not broken, not tainted, not tarnished. It means whole, meaning undivided and complete.

Integrity is consistency and sincerity, with no deception or pretense. It is being honest, speaking the truth, and having strong moral principles that we refuse to change. It is keeping our word even when it hurts. Integrity is having a moral compass that we follow no matter what, uncompromising in our ethical principles.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt tested one of his ranch employees by asking him to steal from a neighboring ranch. The man agreed to do so, and Roosevelt immediately fired him. “A man who steals for me will soon steal from me.” No matter the test, the integrous person does what is right; they remain untouched by worldly influence.

When we practice integrity, we attract the favor of God. Psalm 112:4-5 teaches – “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious, and compassionate, and righteous man. Good will come to him who . . . conducts his affairs with justice.” God’s favor then extends to the family of the integrous, as well. Proverbs 20:7 says, "The righteous people who walk in their integrity—how blessed are their children after them.”

When we practice integrity, we experience an inner peace, assured that we have not violated our conscience or hurt someone else’s. As our opening Bible verse states, when we do not have moral wholeness and walk crooked paths, we live in constant peril of being ‘found out’ that we are a fraud.

Integrity is an important virtue because without it we cannot be trusted – in our words or our actions. Integrity is required for relationships and sets the standard for ethical behavior and problem-solving.

We develop integrity through facing ourselves honestly. We make what is right more important than what people think about us. We can be loving, but we can also be truthful and honest with people. We do the right thing even if it is unpopular. We do not succumb to peer pressure. We develop integrity through keeping our promises and commitments. Do we do what we say we are going to do? Hypocrisy is the antithesis of integrity. Saying something and doing something else is disingenuous and builds distrust.

Daniel, of the Bible, is a wonderful example of integrity. He was taken captive to Babylon. He soon rose to the third most powerful ruler of Babylon because of his abilities to interpret dreams. Of course, this ticked off other people who wanted power. But try as they might, they could find nothing to hold against Daniel. Daniel 6:4 tells us, “ Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.” Daniel had integrity.

So they used Daniels religion against him. Daniel was committed to God, and God alone. So the other uppity-ups convinced the King to issue an edict forbidding prayer to anyone but the king himself. Naturally, Daniel could not comply and was sentenced to death and thrown into a den of lions as punishment.

The next morning King Darius learned that Daniel had been delivered by his God, and converted and gave Daniel and even more powerful position in the kingdom.

Conclusion: Integrity attracts God’s attention, and is a very useful virtue.

We are not perfect people. But if we focus on doing what is right, we will always come back home to the truth. We all get lost and lose our way. But those who cling to their integrity find our way back to Spirit and what is right. Integrity is a gift to ourself. We don’t have to live in despair, darkness, and wickedness. Through integrity we admit our mistakes, take responsibility for our choices, forgive ourselves, and move on into the Light of Christ.

In 1968, Dr. Kent M. Keith wrote The Paradoxical Commandments, which describe the qualities of integrity.

~People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

~ If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

~ If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

~ The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

~ Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

~ The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

~ People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

~ What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

~ People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

~ Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

People who display integrity value other people’s time, as well as their own. They give credit where it is due and don’t try to claim it for themselves. Integrity guides people to be authentic – consistently real about who they are and what they think. They don’t spend time, lying, pretending, or being fake.

Integrous people are not interested in taking advantage of others, but rather love building them up and helping them get to where they want to be. They don’t argue over disagreements and respectively discuss things civilly. Through integrity we give people the benefit of the doubt, and don’t jump to conclusions.

Integrity calls us to accept and believe what others tell us until proven otherwise. Yet if lied to, we often choose not to trust them again unless major steps and efforts have been made. But when wrong, people of integrity are the first to apologize. They know that mistakes are okay and part of the human learning process, and that people can learn, forgive and work things out. They own up for their actions and always accept responsibility for their behavior.

Proverb 5:21-23 teaches us some powerful lessons. “For people’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all theirs paths. the evil deeds of a wicked people ensnare them; the cords of their sin hold them fast. They will die for lack of discipline, led astray by their own great folly.”

Everything we do, think, and say is seen by God. Our integrity and motives are broadcast to God at all times, and we are guided through all of our angelic and demonic decisions. The dire consequences of our evil deeds are not a result of God’s intervention, but from the natural result of our poor choices. Our deeds ensnare us or free us. The verse tells us that it is a lack of discipline that is our undoing, which I interpret as a lack of integrity; the inability in that moment to do what is right. We are not doing what is right in God’s eyes and are led astray through our irrationality. Our demise will not be due to a lack of knowledge or understanding…it will be our lack of personal discipline, our lack of integrity.

Living a life of integrity is rarely easy, but it is essential if we want to reflect the Light and Love of Christ into the world. I pray that we strive to be people of integrity and do nothing that dishonors God and our values. It is my prayer that we follow our moral and ethical convictions, and do the right thing in all circumstances, especially when it is not convenient; even when no one is watching. To do the right thing even when no one is looking ... that is integrity.


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