Each one of us in on a mistake-filled journey here on earth. Can we maintain integrity?
By Steve Prokopchak
As I was walking around in an old “five and dime” store as a child, I watched a gentleman remove the price tag from one sweatshirt and place it on another so that he would pay less at the cash register. That was almost sixty years ago, but I remember the incident as if it happened today. It made such an impact on my young mind.
Integrity is a strict adherence to morality and ethical value. It is walking in healing and wholeness. If we lack wholeness in any area of our lives, we will most certainly lack integrity within that area as well.
Is Integrity Equal to Perfection?
Each one of us is on a mistake-filled journey here on earth. Can we maintain integrity? I believe we can. Godly character is grown over time and mistakes are part of that growth. If we live under strict codes of the law, then all failures are placed upon our permanent record. But as we live under grace, we find forgiveness for our failures. Our Advocate, Jesus Christ, comes alongside us to help us respond correctly so that each experience leads to personal growth. While this does not give an excuse for sin, the journey of life is thereby about growing, not about being perfect.
While driving on Memorial Day weekend, I counted no less than one dozen police officers sitting along the highway in their patrol vehicles within a span of a few hours. Their presence was a constant reminder to obey the law—or suffer the consequences. If I disobeyed the law, seeing an officer would create a response of fear within me. If I obeyed, I could be confident, knowing that I had done nothing wrong. That is how the law operates. God’s grace does not operate that way. In the process of growing, we need not be afraid of making mistakes because perfect love casts out fear. (See I John 4:18.)
Love accepts that integrity is not perfect. Love embraces the journey. Love forgives the wrongdoing and love promotes more love, not fear. David the psalmist had plenty of faults, but in Psalm 41 he wrote, “In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever” (Psalm 41:12).
Integrity Avoids Moral Failure
Life can be full of regrets, but integrity and high moral character will never leave one feeling remorseful. We do our best to avoid moral failure and the loss of integrity.
Job’s wife once said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Yet even after all of Job’s loss, he did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing. What amazing personal character! Yes, we face temptations in life. As we long to be more like Jesus, we realize we will never fully reach that goal of perfection. Even so, a testimony of integrity can be your portion. That testimony begins today.
There are many benefits to walking in integrity:
- A close walk with the Lord
- Good family relationships as respect and trust are upheld
- A marriage of spiritual, sexual, and emotional oneness
- No need to “win back” trust from spouse or others
- Never being forced to walk away from a location, friendship, job, or ministry position
- Never facing news reports, articles, rumors, gossip, or social media exposure accusing you of personal failure
- Not having to face either biblical discipline or possible lawsuits
- Living without wounds, scars, condemnation, guilt, fear of others, or overwhelming thoughts of failure
- Peaceful sleep and positive thoughts of each new day as vision for life is renewed
- Being able to look at one’s family and all others in the eye
- A clear conscience and life without regrets
Integrity Goes beyond Morality
Integrity is not just about moral character, but also our character when it comes to finances and truth-telling. It involves the things we do as well as the things we do not do.
Jesus talked a lot about money. How we walk out financial integrity speaks loudly about our character. Our use of money, debt, credit, tithing, and giving reveal who really controls our finances.
Integrity Is Full of Truth
Truth-telling is a matter of integrity as well. Are we 100 percent truthful? If not, do we correct our near truths? Proverbs reminds us, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22). I long to be a delight to my Lord; truthful lips will be a part of that relationship.
What Years of Pursuing Integrity Has Taught Me
- Integrity is God’s choice for me. (I Kings 9:4)
- Integrity is a choice that I must make. (Job 27:5, 6; Psalm 7:8)
- Integrity starts in my heart. (I Chronicles 29:17)
- It is easier not to be a man or woman of integrity. (Job 2:9)
- Integrity is something we grow in. (Psalm 103:13, 14)
- Finding a model of integrity to emulate is helpful. We should also be ready to be a model for others. (Titus 2:7)
- Integrity involves humbling ourselves when we fail. (Romans 12:3)
- Integrity means not being able to defend yourself before others at times. (Psalm 25:21; 41:12)
- Jesus maintained integrity before men who constantly judged him. (Mark 12:14; Hebrews 5: 8, 9; Proverbs 29:10)
- The closer I come to Jesus, the more integral I become. (Proverbs 2:21; 10:9 NLT; 11:3; 13:6)
If we choose not to live a life of integrity, we will eventually need intervention. Intervention will then bring about the need for reconditioning. It is really up to each one of us: we can choose integrity in some things or all things.
“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
About Steve Prokopchak
Steve serves on the DOVE International Apostolic Council and has been involved in the Christian counseling field for over 20 years. He earned a master of human services from Lincoln University. He is the author of several books, including Called Together, a premarital counseling workbook. He also travels throughout the world teaching and imparting to the lives of many, especially leaders. Read more about Steve or catch up on his blog.