Most people are simply in the world where life is happening all around them, but they are hardly living it. The world increasingly dictates to us, who we are, what we will become, when we will achieve, where we will live, and how we will treat and react to others. Today we live in a world where dishonesty is rewarded, in a society that increasingly conditions us to lie by telling us that, in many situations, lies are justified. Our belief that a white lie can be “helpful” is rooted in the philosophical term “the end justifies the means” and this has become an acceptable norm, a mantra for the masses, the graduate school of thought for far too many. However, God’s condemnation of lying in Proverbs 6:16–19 contains no such exception clause.
Little white lies are common in our society they are socially acceptable. For example lying about your age, or where you are, or have been, to a spouse is OK, no harm, no foul. This type of behavior is not only normal but often expected in the career of a sales person as they are almost required to over-promise and under deliver a product or service all for the sake of making a quota. Many people will embellish during employment interviews overstating a qualification or even past employment experiences. If I have learned anything in this life, it is character development is one of the most important activities you can engage in. Working on your character means disciplining yourself to do more and more of those things that honor God.
We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. In May of 1991, James Patterson and Peter Kim published a book titled “The Day America Told the Truth”. These two gentlemen used a type of blind survey to document what we really believe versus what we really do. They learned there is no moral authority in America. As Americans, we just go along making up our own rules and moral codes in life. Approximately twenty percent of people believe the Ten Commandments, while most people pick and choose which of God Laws to believe and obey. We are for the most part, not honest people, lying first has become an integral part of our culture. After all many live by the rule “it’s easier to do the deed first and ask for forgiveness later.” In their book, it was determined that at least ninety-one percent of people lie on a regular basis.
Corruption on any level is more than just a little problem; it is caustic. Today in our society marriage and family are no longer sacred gifts. Rather we view them as institutions, our marriages have become nothing more than some contractual law, our families an established traditional practice, or custom. By categorizing them as institutions we believe we have a type of control, we receive a formal role, like CEO, a position in power, given an agenda to carry out or follow. While many still marry today, we have desecrated the true meaning and understanding of marriage altogether. Today surveys, studies, and focus groups find one third of married men and women confess to having had at least one extramarital affair.
If someone is dishonest in any aspect of their life, you can be guaranteed that they will be dishonest in many aspects of their life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, like the person who receives extra change after a purchase and keeps the overage. All too often it’s the little things that creep in unnoticed and take away your fruit “the little foxes, that spoil the vines”- Song of Solomon 2:15. Integrity is a God-like life of consistency and sincerity, without deception or pretense. Integrity’s prevailing quality is wholeness. The word integrity is derived from a root word, meaning whole. When you are a person full of integrity there is no discrepancy between your public life and your private life. You are an open book with nothing to hide, because you have nothing to fear. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex agreements?
Jesus is the perfect example of integrity. When He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, satan approached Him at His weakest moment in an attempt to break His integrity and corrupt Him. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 Jesus is the definition of integrity. Jesus is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect in every way, and always truthful. Jesus was not ashamed of putting His integrity on display in John 14 when explaining to His disciples He was going away Jesus responds to the question “how can we know the way?” by saying “I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus would often prepare those around Him by saying “Truly, I say to you” in other words “I tell you the truth”. Jesus in word and deed defined integrity. When a person repents, and seeks Christ through faith, and receives Him, you also are given a new nature- 2 Corinthians 5:17. Now sharing in His divine nature, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who has the assignment of developing you and your integrity based on this new nature which is His nature in you.
This new nature is driven by love, compassion, mercy, justice, and a desire to seek, pursue, and be obedient to God above all else. This is the life Peter spoke of in in 1 Peter 3:10-12 and quoting David in Psalm 34:12-16 “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Integrity does not only call for us to remain clear of all forms of hypocrisy but to also walk not only in the path of Christ, but in the very footprints of Jesus.