When you think of the word integrity … what comes to mind? Or perhaps, who comes to mind? The world needs more examples of people who live honest, upright lives of integrity. A cursory glance of God’s Word reveals the importance of walking with integrity …
- “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
- “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).
- “Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner” (Proverbs 13:6).
Notice how integrity is contrasted against unfaithfulness, duplicitousness, crookedness, and even wickedness. It’s no surprise – integrity means to be whole, complete, or undivided. It means your words and actions are consistent. There’s no sinful or secret behavior that’s kept hidden. In this way, those with integrity are “guarded” and “walk securely” – there is nothing secret or hidden that “will be found out.”
The psalmist provides more practical insight on what it looks like to walk with integrity … “LORD, who may reside in Your tent? Who may settle on Your holy hill? One who walks with integrity, practices righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor do evil to his neighbor, Nor bring shame on his friend” (Psalm 15:1–3 NASB).
Here we see that those who dwell with the Lord are those who have integrity. What does that look like? Practicing what is right, speaking truth, and not engaging in slander, evil, or hurtful behavior. To put it another way, to act with integrity is to act ethically – to align one’s attitudes and behaviors with the set of moral principles described in God’s Word. Just as the psalmist asks, we also ask today … who is like this?
The Need for Integrity
Integrity seems hard to find these days. In a world where “truth is relative” and everyone seems to look out for themselves, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth. It’s easy to “follow the crowd” and forget how God calls us to live.
Examples abound of what walking without integrity looks like. Some are subtle, such as telling a white lie or exaggerating a story to make yourself look good. Other examples are not so subtle, such as directly breaking the law and engaging in unethical behavior, as in the recent case of the leaked SCOTUS document and the protests which ensued outside of the homes of the Supreme Court Justices, which directly violates a United States law – see 18 U.S. Code § 1507 – Picketing or parading.1 More common, everyday examples of walking without integrity or engaging in unethical behavior include:
- Cheating on a test
- Failing to keep a promise
- Being unfaithful to a spouse
- Saying one thing and doing another
- Sharing confidential information
- Dishonest business practices
Such examples fail the test of integrity mentioned in Psalm 15 above – living a life of righteousness, truthfulness, and doing good to one’s neighbor. What, then, is our example of integrity? Or rather … who?
The Example of Integrity
It’s interesting to note that the Pharisees recognized Jesus as a man of integrity. They once said to him, “We know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are” (Matthew 22:16).
Though the Pharisees got a lot wrong – their observation here is correct: Jesus was a man of integrity. How did they know? Because He taught God’s ways in accordance with the truth, and He sought God’s approval instead of human approval.
Jesus is our model of integrity. He lived with integrity because He lived in line with the truth, seeking to please God rather than man. That’s the key to walking with integrity.
The Walk of Integrity
As we seek to live with integrity, we must first look to the Lord. He’s not just our example of integrity but also the one who empowers us to live honest, upright lives. We must also look to God’s Word, which keeps us grounded in the truth and provides practical guidance on what integrity looks like in daily life. In addition to the passages above, consider a few practical insights from Psalm 101.