What is Integrity?
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.
Psalm 101: The Walk of Integrity
Integrity loves the Lord and His justice.
“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise.”
Integrity lives a blameless life.
“I will be careful to lead a blameless life – when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.”
Integrity keeps its eyes from evil.
“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it”
Integrity protects itself from the perverse.
“The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil.”
Integrity silences gossip and slander.
“Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”
Integrity seeks fellowship with wise people.
“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.”
Integrity denounces deceit and dishonesty.
“No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.”
Integrity rejects wickedness and evil.
“Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.”
A Prayer & Resource for You
Integrity is not merely one more respectable quality among many good qualities or character traits. It’s central to the Christian life as we live out our calling in accordance with the truth – God’s truth. Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). To walk with integrity is to walk in line with the truth.
So let’s be committed to the truth, and by God’s grace, to live with integrity and be truth-tellers. As you seek to live out this calling in your own life, we pray that Lord will guide you in all your decisions each day.
“The LORD … delights in those with integrity.”
(Proverbs 11:20 NLT)
- See 18 U.S. Code § 1507: Whoever, with the intent of interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCODE-2010-title18/html/USCODE-2010-title18-partI-chap73-sec1507.htm.