“Integrity” occurs sixteen times in the King James Version of the Bible, and all of them are in the Old Testament. It is used to describe an adherence to moral and ethical principles and embodies the concept of being whole or complete. It is not exclusively for the wise and noble; the writer of the Proverbs refers to even the poor walking in it. Job’s wife, under the test of extreme calamity and adversity, advised her husband to forsake it. He rejected her advice and called her foolish. It is apparently something owned—in many of the references the word follows a possessive pronoun.
The God we serve, the creator of the world, is the essence of integrity. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31). His word is forever settled in the heavens. As one song says, “If Jesus said that He would do it, then He’ll do it.”
Job, was given this commendation: “A perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). What were the moral and ethical principles that governed his life? “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). “Is there iniquity in my tongue?” (Job 6:30). “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (Job 27:6). The above verses indicate that integrity was something Job valued and that it was obtained and maintained with diligence.
Let us take a look at some things which may challenge our integrity.
Not keeping my word. “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not” (Ps. 15:1, 4). Perhaps I have told someone I will buy something from him, and later I change my mind. Meanwhile, with that commitment from me, the other person has also made a commitment. Now things are difficult for him. “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Eccles. 5:5). What happens when a loan has been made, money or equipment borrowed from the neighbor, and something beyond our control happens so that we cannot pay? Maybe a credit card bill is out of control. “It is not my fault,” we may say, and perhaps it is true. But we have signed on the bottom line, and we must do our best to keep our word.
Integrity would require, when it is first apparent that we cannot repay, to talk to the creditor and tell him what has happened. Counsel should to be sought with total openness. Humility is the only road, as pride will hinder a solution every step of the way.
Being late can become a habit. Maybe we are typically five, ten, or fifteen minutes late for an appointment, social gathering, or church. Of course, there may be a reason, but it is not ideal if it becomes habitual. Being late can indicate that what we are doing is more important than than others’ time or that I have less time to waste than they do.
What do I do if something is offered for sale, and I know the price is too low? Suppose you are the seller and are aware that the buyer will pay whatever is asked because of his desperation. If the item being sold has a hidden problem, is it revealed to the buyer? Or perhaps there is a neighbor who freely lets others use his equipment, and we know he will never ask payment. Perhaps we are late for an early-pay discount, but we write the check for that amount anyway, knowing the businessman will likely not say anything. What if a repair job has gone sour, and since the repairman is responsible, we require more than essential restitution? Or perhaps I am the one who made the repair, and I refuse to take responsibility. There will always be takers, and there will be givers—which are we?
Am I the same person in secret as in public? Am I completely honest in all areas of life? Am I the same person on vacation as at home? Do I hope, at times, that no one will see what I am doing? Are there things in my life that I will never reveal to anyone? A person’s moral life, Christian life, business life, and social life should all carry the same godly flavor.
Integrity costs, and it pays. What Christian businessman has not had a customer take advantage of him, and he allowed it to be? A life built on honesty, giving instead of taking, and delivering on promises has its own rewards. Seldom will that person go hungry, and at the end of the day, there can be rest and peace in his soul.
From Messenger of Truth, 2018, No. 13