The little phrase really is true: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Why? Because there’s always somebody that can play a little better than I can, but anyone can excel in integrity if they will.

Holding Integrity in Your Heart

Integrity is not just what people see. Integrity is what you are.

Twice in Genesis 20, the Bible referred to the integrity of Abimelech’s heart. God said about Job, “He holdeth fast his integrity.” Job himself said, “. . . I will not remove mine integrity from me.”

One of the most important truths in the whole Bible is this: Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” If you’ve got any integrity, it’s not just because you have it naturally. If you’ve really got it, it’s because God gave it to you.

I also want to tell you that even though God gives integrity to you, there’s also a sense in which He says, “I give you the responsibility to hold on to your integrity. I gave it to you, now you hold onto it.”

How can a person hold onto integrity? Only by having it and keeping it in the heart. If it is not in the heart, integrity is up for grabs. If it is not in your heart, then the mind will begin to rationalize and figure out a way to get around it. If your integrity is only in your hands, somebody will be able to buy it from you. If your integrity is only in your mind, somebody will talk you out of it. But if integrity is in your heart, then with God’s help, you can keep it no matter what.

Let me ask you a key question: What would you do if you knew that nobody would ever find out? If you knew you would never be caught, what would you do?

Which is stronger in your heart right now, greed or integrity? Would you steal if you knew no one would ever find it out?

Which is stronger in your heart, lust or integrity? What would you look at if you knew no one would ever find out? Where would you go if you knew no one would ever find out? What would you do if you knew that no one would ever find out?

Integrity says, “I can’t do this because I can’t live with myself if I do.” That is integrity in the heart.

Remember the story of Joseph? He was sold into slavery by his brothers and wound up in Potiphar’s house in Egypt, where Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. What did Joseph say? “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Notice that Joseph wasn’t primarily worried about Potiphar finding out. People who are unfaithful to their mates are usually only worried that their mate or the other person’s mate will find out. They’re not as likely to maintain integrity as they would be if they recognized that God is always watching them and were more concerned about Him knowing what they did than someone else knowing. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Joseph wasn’t just worried about Potiphar finding out. He was worried about having to live with himself, knowing that God would know what he had done.

Martin Luther said, “If I knew the world would go to pieces tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree and pay my debts.” If no bill collector was coming after you, would you still pay your bills? If the boss is nowhere around, do you still put in eight hours’ work for eight hours’ pay? Do you work harder when the boss is watching than you do when he’s not?

I don’t know much about sports, but I’ve read that some professional athletes will sign a contract for three years. Then, if they have a really good year, they want to renegotiate after the good year. I can’t help but wonder if they’re willing to renegotiate for a lower salary if they have a bad year!