The character of integrity exhibits the obedience and practice of the moral code of ethics, morals, values, and precepts from God's Word. In practice, integrity will produce honor, truth, and reliability. It will allow one to keep his or her word and do the best even when no one else is aware. This is essential for deeper relationships, and of course for developing other people's confidence in you and Christianity (Psalm 15; 78:72; Prov. 2:1-11; Micah 6:8; Luke 3:13-14; 6:31; 11:42; Rom. 13:5; 14:5, 14, 22; Eph. 6:6; Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:22-23; 1 Tim. 1:5; 3:9; Titus 1:7-8; James 1:9-11; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:5-11)!
Hypocrisy, Dishonesty, Duplicity, and Corruption are the opposites of God's call! When we carry out these evil traits or do not keep our word, we are misrepresenting Christ's good name and are defiling Him with our feeble words and/or excuses. Hypocrisy gives people a false impression of God and His Church! Insincerity gives people a false impression of who we are called to be; it nullifies integrity and character!
Integrity is considered the quintessence and application of Character. It is the demonstration of who we are in Christ and that our faith is real and backed up with our attitude and word. The absence of integrity is an indication that we as Christians are perhaps fakes and frauds at worst, and ineffective and useless at best. It is essential that we pursue integrity and His transforming work to make His Name real and shown (Rom. 12).
Jesus calls us to integrity, which means we are to be true to our word as a testimony to our faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or the veracity of our virtue and character. Everything we do as a child of God must be in integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are representing Him who is living in us! Consistent integrity is essential for the person who claims Christ as Lord of his or her life!
So, the question is, are you a person of integrity? When we say we follow Christ and His Word, do our actions show that we do? If not, we are being a Pharisee (they are not fair, you see), which is being a hypocrite. This is reprehensible before our Lord and others around us because we are misrepresenting Christ and His character! Thus, it is imperative that when we say we are followers of Christ, our character and behavior reflect Him and His call to the best of our abilities. If we are in leadership, this is even more imperative. We demonstrate integrity when we do what we say and act out what we believe; if not, we are a fraud, and woe to us for being one!
The Bible calls us to a higher level of excellence than that of others around us-one of truth, love, honesty, and functionality. This is integrity in action; it is the implementation of His Ways in the practice of our daily Christian lives. We are adhering to His rules, morals, and principles (Zech. 8:16-17). This means we, as people of the faith, will place character, without excuse, ahead of our ambition. Most of all, we will have the focus to glorify God and not ourselves. In so doing, we will be doing the right thing all the time with no guilt or fear and nothing to hide. So, we do what we say we will do from the practice of God's Truth and Character that He has for us. We must be willing to do this regardless of our comfort, convenience, challenge, or controversy-without excuses. (In addition, to do what is contrary to His Word and say we must do it because we said we would for integrity's sake is also evil). His ways give us meaning, and leading a righteous life gives us satisfaction.
We become a Christian by the work of the Spirit. But, our maturity in Christ and how we practice our faith is determined by the choices we make from the conviction and confidence of our beliefs. We choose to take the faith He gives and make it more real and effective. We choose to make the right choices or not, so we have no excuse when our life is messed up by neglect or poor choices. Yes, we have forgiveness and grace, but we are still left with a life that could have been so much more. So, we have to make the determination and be willing to align our lives to His Word and precepts so our behaviors represent who we are in Christ. After that, we need to be more conscious of the decisions we make, both large and small, without the compromise of solid ethics.
We must also be on guard with people who will do all they can to try to convince us to give up our integrity and character. There will be appealing arguments, passionate pleas, peer pressure, rationizations, and ridicule on a personal level for why we do not need integrity (Job 2:3, 2:9, Prov. 29:10; 1 Cor. 15:33). Do not fret or despair when others come against you (and they will), when you stand up for truth, or when you keep your word; because of your integrity, you will be doing the right thing and you will be rewarded (1 Kings 9:4-5, Nehemiah 7:2, Psalm 41:11-12).
So, let us, without regret, lead lives that are worthy. Our call is to do as we teach, to do as we say, and to act as we teach others to act. Integrity is of the utmost importance for the Christian (Exodus 8:28-32; 1 Thess. 2: 10-12)! Why? Because God is righteous and just, and wants us to be our best in this area, too. The reason the Pharisees are equated with hypocrisy is that they were worshipping not the God of the Jews and the Law, but a made-up god that suited their own thoughts, schemas, and pride. They also covered truth and integrity with their hidden agendas and deceit (Psalm 103:1-14; Matt. 23; 1 Tim. 3:2-7; 1 Pet. 5:10)!
The fuel that will enable us to maintain our integrity is our understanding of "fullness." This is knowing who we are in Christ, and what He did for us on the Cross-that we are complete in Him! Then, we can be better able to comprehend that the Word of God is our authority. All you do, as a Christian, is a response to what He has first done in you. Couple that with the application of His Word, and it will instigate the right mark and practice of our behaviors. This is our integrity.
Is the Character of Integrity working in you?
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Integrity from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit Integrity in my daily life?
2. How can I better develop a willingness to possess more Integrity?
3. What blocks Integrity from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I make Integrity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
1. How would you define or explain integrity to someone who does not understand it?
2. What part does integrity play in your relationships with fellow church members, friends, coworkers, and family? What would or could block you from acting with integrity?
3. How does dishonesty counteract integrity? What is the cost to the Kingdom of God when we Christians do not keep our word?
4. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to have integrity?
5. When have you exercised integrity the most? How do you practice integrity? In what situation did you fail to have integrity when you should have?
7. What issue is in your life that would improve with more integrity? Why would a Christian refuse to be consistent with his/her integrity?
8. Think through the steps you need to take to put integrity into action in a specific instance. For example, what can you do to be more consistent and proactive with integrity? What can you do to be a person who is focused on integrity? What can your church do to instill and teach that integrity is essential for the person who claims Christ as Lord of his or her life?
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Joshua 7:11-26; 1 Kings 21:2-16; Matt. 23: 1-39; Acts 8:18-23; 23:12-15; 1 Tim. 1:18-20
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org