The Virtue of Integrity2
Sometime back, while paying for a cup of coffee at 7-Eleven, I gave the cashier too much money. The total was ninety-six cents, but I handed her a dollar and a penny. She returned a nickel and a dime. I politely said, “I think I owe you a dime.”
She did a double take and realized she’d given me ten cents too much. When I gave her back the dime she said, “Thank you! Most people would have just walked off.”
It’s tragic, but it seems we are more shocked when people do what’s right rather than what’s wrong. In our culture it seems like we’re bombarded with acts of questionable integrity. I think our “information age” is a big reason. With all the disinformation and sarcastic material online, it’s easy to become cynical and distrusting of everyone.
There’s no doubt we live in a culture of blurred lines and double standards. That’s nothing new. Hypocrisy was rampant in Jesus’ day, too. He regularly exposed it, like one time he lashed out at Jewish leaders:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
– Matthew 23:25 (NIV)
God has called us to live differently. He has a better plan. He wants us to live a life of integrity…
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
– Proverbs 11:3 (NIV)
A popular phrase in our culture says that “integrity is what you do when no one’s watching.” That’s so true! God directs us to make sure our walk matches our talk regardless of who’s around.
Many people are concerned about their reputation. They spend life managing people’s perceptions, “spinning” the truth in order to look good. Living a life of integrity changes that. Maintaining a good reputation is easy when we are truthful in everything we do. Plus, a life of integrity has lots of other advantages, too! For instance…
Integrity allows you to walk close to God.
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.
– Psalm 15:1-2 (NASB)
You are closest to the people who live by the same values. It’s not that you love other people less than them. You naturally feel closer to people whose values are aligned with yours. God made us that way. So, the more we align our values with his, the closer we come to him.
Integrity gives you security.
People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.
– Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)
Have you noticed how one lie turns into another, then another, and another? I learned that the hard way! You can never tell just one little lie. The first one always requires another to drive the story the direction you want. Trust me, it’s a miserable way to live.
Telling the truth is so much better, even when it’s hard. You’ll feel much more freedom and experience more security when you do.
Being a person of integrity has other advantages, such as receiving trust and respect, and having influence. As humans, we desire and need all these things. (God created us that way, too!)
When it comes to integrity, what parts of your life need a little “shoring up”? How will you work on these areas in the days and weeks to come? Let’s be people who refuse to embrace hypocrisy and are always challenging our behavior with what we believe. Let’s do it because integrity honors our heavenly Father, is best for us, helps others...and so we can see the blessing of the Lord on our lives.
Do you know someone who's shown a lot of integrity in their life? Take time to encourage them in a text, email, or call! Know some one who'd appreciate Pastor Jeff's thoughts on this subject? Why not share this blog with them today?!