Title: Integrity And The Christian.
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One of the major vlrtues that Christianity advocates for all its devotees is integrity. This is because the major foundation of Christianity is the need for the Christian to have faith in the Almighty God and His only son Jesus Christ. This faith is based on the integrity that both have built even before the earth and all its contents were created and formed, such that whatever is proven to have been said by any of them can be trusted and this has remained that way throughout all generations.
The Almighty God in His first set of instructions to Moses made it clear that his name should not be associated with vanity – Exo. 20:7. This in itself is an indication of how much he cherishes His name which really is his image and this is because He had built for Himself sufficient integrity, based on His pronouncements and so would not want all that image destroyed with its being associated with vanity.
Meanwhile despite all the high rating he demands for his name, the Psalmist informed all who care to know that the Almighty God still exalts His Words higher than His name – Psa. 138:2. No doubt the credible image that is associated with His name was built on the fact that whatever his proven to be said by Him can be fully relied upon. This is the Almighty Himself cherishing the virtue of integrity associated with Him and wanting to protect and preserve it.
Integrity in this instance is generally defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Three words stand out in this definition and they are basically quality, honest and the phrase “strong moral principles”.
Quality: Someone or something is said to be of quality if it meets a set standard. The appropriate standard at all times must be the highest possible level that can be achieved with regards to the issue in reference. Fortunately, there is no other standard that is higher than the standard of the Almighty God as He is the only perfect one. This is not only with regards to integrity, but with regards to all areas of life, so His quality of integrity remains the standard – Heb. 6:13. Any Christian who intends to build the virtue of integrity must firstly get to know Him and model their lives along his standard, as that remains the only way that such can grow in the right direction when it comes to building the virtue of integrity. Just like Him, such must learn to make careful pronouncements so that his/her name will be associated with truth and honesty at all times. Such will also do all that is possible to ensure that his/her image is based on the foundation of true and sincere principles. It may never be possible to meet His standard as man but there must be every indication of a positive progression in the direction of meeting this standard as any other indication will not engender the development of the virtue of integrity. It will only be possible to know what He stands for and grow in it if one spends quality time with Him through the reading and meditation in His Words. It will be simply impossible to build the quality of integrity that He has if such does not regularly mirror his/her actions with the Word of God. The starting point for building the virtue of integrity by anyone therefore will be to take the advise of the Almighty God to Joshua where in presenting to Joshua His Book of Instructions, He told him not to allow its contents depart from his mouth and he should meditate on it day and night – Josh. 1:8. He who desires integrity must start by raising the true standard as that remains the only way to continually measure the progress made in that direction.
Honest. The second major word of interest in the definition of Integrity is “honest”. It simply means for one to be truthful, fair and sincere. It will be very impossible for anyone who is not truthful in what he/she says or does, not fair in situations or amongst people or very insincere in his/her intention to be associated with integrity. It should be the norm for a Christian to be known for his/her truthful pronouncements. Jesus Christ says the “Yes” of the Christian should be “Yes” just as the “No” should be “No” – Matt. 5:37. Once there is the need to second guess an individual in his/her comments, then such as failed the integrity test as such cannot be trusted in his/her pronouncements. The psalmist says the one who can successfully worship the Lord must be able to stick to his/her pronouncements even when it is not to his/her advantage – Psa. 15:4.
An unfair person operates different scales depending on his/her selfish interests. The Lord made it clear to Moses that those who are to associate with Him must avoid the use of multiple scales (Lev. 19:35) as such people will always end up being cheats and cannot be trusted and there will always be victims of such negative acts. It will be impossible to rely on whatever such says or does as there will be no consistency. The actions of such is not based on standard but on how best the personal interest of such will be served. Such cannot be said to have integrity and cannot be regarded as a practicing Christian. A Christian must be predictable in terms of the standard he/she uses when relating with others which must not be different from biblical standard. It is simply not acceptable that things will be right or wrong on the basis of the personality that is involved or what such individual has to gain in the situation. Whether it hurts or not, such must implement godly decisions and judgements.
Sincerity is also vital when considering the honesty of the one that is said to have integrity. To be sincere is to avoid pretence, hypocrisy or deceit in one’s dealings with people. It must be plain to all at all times that all that the individual stands for is really what is on display and nothing else. It is not possible for the one with integrity to say something and is deliberately involved in the opposite. A hypocrite or deceitful person can never be associated with integrity. All should be able to trust that there is no hidden advantage that the one who desires to be associated with integrity intends to get and which was not laid bare for all to see in the course of the decision making process. Every interest must be made known to all parties for all to be on the same page. The one who wants to be regarded as having integrity cannot say or stand for something when there is a proof before, during or after the event, of a hidden interest that he/she is aware of or deliberately planned to benefit from, if the opinion he/she is advocating for is finally accepted and implemented.
The third point noted in the definition of integrity is the need for one that will be so described to “have strong moral principles”. It is not possible for the one that intends to be associated with integrity to lower moral standard to a level where he/she can excel, so as to give the impression of being principled and having integrity. The standard to use must definitely be high and generally acceptable. In the case of the Christian, it can only be biblical standards. Any standard outside this standard will simply not be acceptable. It is not, for example, acceptable to lower the standard of stealing to a level where it is allowed to steal some things but not some or it is permissible for some people to steal while for some it is not. Operating with such double standards and expecting to be regarded as principled will simply be a journey in self-deceit. Stealing is stealing and the only biblical standard that can excuse such will be a clear proof of the Almighty God making an exception through the directive of the Holy Spirit, which in most cases is to prove some point or the other by the Almighty God. The cases of the lying of Abraham (Gen. 20:1-16), the plundering of the Egyptians by the departing Israelites (Exo. 3:21-22) and the association of Simon Peter with the gentiles (Acts 10:11-16) amongst several others can be referenced. It is not unexpected that many will hide under the excuse that they were directed by the Holy Spirit. Such people should only succeed in deceiving themselves if indeed all Christians operate in the Holy Spirit. Such may not be openly challenged but the hypocrisy and deceit will be made open with time and whatever rating of integrity that was falsely acquired will be lost instantly.
A Christian must do all it takes to build the virtue of integrity as it remains a major tool with which the devil accuses the Christian before the Lord. The Lord definitely had a very high rating for Joshua the High Priest, a rating that did not go down well with the devil and he was bent on destroying it. The way to do that was to let the Lord see that Joshua lacked integrity in some areas of his life and he was quick to reveal such before the Lord to discredit him. However, the sincerity of Joshua and his zeal for the Lord was enough to discharge and acquit him of all accusations, even when they were found to be true. The Lord instead asked that the garment of shame be replaced with that of honour and the devil had to depart in shame – Zech. 3:1-7. Yes! the Christian may have fallen short and failed the integrity test but the Lord is still able to salvage such if the intention was sincere or divinely directed. Just as Jesus Christ said, “the law was made for man” and not the reverse (Mark 2:27) and the lawgiver has the liberty to waive such laws in exceptional circumstances (Acts 10:9-18; 1Sam. 21:1-9) but that cannot include all those circumstances that are deliberately created to favour selfish human interests and that does not have the approval of the law-giver.
The Christian must aspire to build the strong virtue of integrity, but must also be cautious and conscious that the law-giver may desire some alterations in some circumstances so he/she must always get current position of the Lord on those strong moral principles. It is very likely that someone like King David would have failed the integrity test with men and probably dethroned as king for sending for Uriah to come back home in a move that gave the impression that he loved him when in actual fact, it was a move done to cover up an act of indescretion, but the Almighty God was still able to waive it off after what seems like a minimal punishment and not only retain him as king but allowed for the lineage of the same woman to produce the heir to the throne – 2Sam. 11:1 – 12:25. Indeed the ways of the Lord are mysterious but that is why He is the Almighty God.
In summary, the Christian must do all it takes to build the virtue of integrity as it may not be possible to justify that identity without it but such must also be aware that the assessment of the world in terms of rating such virtue may not be important at all times as much as the assessment of the Almighty God, which is important at all times. Peter was implied by the Apostle Paul to lack integrity in his dealings with the gentiles (Gal. 2:11-13) but one doubts very much if the Almighty God sees Simon Peter in the same manner that the Apostle Paul sees him because left with Simon Peter, he would never have gone with the messengers to the house of Cornelius but for the prompting he got from the Lord through the Holy Spirit – Acts 10:1-48. Do your honest best in trying to build your integrity and leave the rest to God for perfection. May God help us to pass all integrity tests in Jesus name. Amen.