4 Excellent Examples of Integrity in the Bible
- Lucas Hagen Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 2 Dec
You have likely heard the phrase “the end justifies the means.” This is a quip used often in business, signifying that as long as goals are hit and success is achieved, the steps one took to get there are unimportant. This is especially used in times when ethical boundaries have been breached. Unfortunately, this lax attitude towards moral uprightness has bled into the Church. Many focus on outward obedience, yet when one is all alone, it becomes easy to commit secret sins, ultimately developing into a whole secret life. What is missing in the lives of so many Christians is a focus on integrity and examples of integrity.
There are few characteristics more important in the lives of Jesus’ followers than integrity. While it can be easy to do the right things and say the right things in front of others, it becomes very difficult to do the same when one is all alone. Fortunately, the Bible is full of myriad examples of people who have demonstrated faithful integrity in their lives, both in private and public. These four examples did not give in to sin and temptation, but rather give an example to all followers of God what it means to live with integrity.
Examples of Integrity: Job
Job is one of a few people in Scripture who is described as blameless. The writer of Job says, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Job was a good and faithful man. He was strong, wealthy, and had a thriving family.
However, God allowed Satan to attack Job and his family, knowing that Job would not give in to sin as a result of his suffering. Despite Job losing his property, wealth, health, and family, he never once curses God. Never does he give in to sin. Never does he turn his back on God.
Job continued to trust in God despite those who told him to give up. His friends continually gave him bad advice, and Job remained steadfast. While at times he questioned God and had some reservations, he never lost faith.
Most of us will likely never experience suffering to the degree of Job’s suffering. However, many of us give in to doubts and lose trust in God over much smaller matters. While every follower of Christ will experience suffering at some point, Job demonstrates that it is possible to endure persecution with grace and patience, trusting in the sovereignty of God.
Examples of Integrity: Hebrew Midwives in Egypt
Living with integrity is to do what one knows is right, whether in public or in private. A prime example of this from Scripture is the Egyptian midwives in Exodus. The nation of Israel was growing strong in numbers, despite the oppression they were receiving from the Egyptians. To combat the growth of the Israelites, the king of Egypt commanded all of the Hebrew midwives to kill any newborn males.
However, as Moses writes in Exodus, “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live” (Ex. 1:17). Even though they received pressure from the king to kill the sons, they feared God more than they feared the king. Despite the risk, they decided to let the Hebrew boys live, and God blessed them for it. One of the Hebrew boys who was allowed to live was named Moses. Without the integrity of the Hebrew midwives, Moses, the leader of Israel, may have been killed at birth!
Examples of Integrity: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Probably the most well-known of these examples is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. This is rightly one of the most common stories told in Sunday schools because it is truly amazing! For young children, the thought of three guys going into fire and coming out unscathed is nothing short of epic. For some reason, this story seems to be neglected among adult teachings. This is a shame because they demonstrate some of the most radical faith and integrity found in Scripture.
The events of the fiery furnace happened while Israel was in exile in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that all people in Babylon, including the Israelites, worship him and his huge golden self-image exclusively. He included a punishment for disobedience, saying, “And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace” (Dan. 3:11).
Knowing of this command and the associated punishment, there were three Israelite men who completely disregarded his command and his golden image. What were their names? You guessed it: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Even at the risk of being burned alive, these three refused to commit idolatry.
When confronted by King Nebuchadnezzar, the three men were unwavering in their convictions. Again, he commanded them to bow and worship him. They responded with the following, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:16-18).
This is easily one of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the entire Bible. Their boldness in front of the most powerful person in the world at a time is astounding. They refuse to give in to his pressure, and they willingly enter into the fiery furnace, without any shows of doubt or hesitation. They would simply rather die than worship anyone other than Yahweh.
You know the rest of the story. They enter into the furnace, and an angel appears in the flames with them. They walk out of the furnace completely unscathed, and Nebuchadnezzar worships Yahweh for His display of power and faithfulness to His people.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego display integrity, not only in private, but in public with their lives on the line. They refused to renounce their faith in Yahweh, and they willingly gave their own lives to show faithfulness to God. It is only by the grace and provision of God that they were spared in the furnace. As far as they were concerned, they were walking to their deaths, and they did not look back.
Examples of Integrity: Joseph, Stepfather to Jesus
Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary, who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. While this is certainly amazing, it became complicated for Mary’s husband, Joseph. When news got out that Mary was pregnant, and that Joseph was not the father, she would be known as a whore in the tiny town of Nazareth, and that would taint Joseph’s reputation.
Upon hearing of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph had a few options. First, he could have had her killed, as that was the penalty for adultery according to the Law (Lev. 20:10). Second, he could have divorced her quietly, separating himself from her without completely humiliating either of them. Third, he could marry her anyway and be known as the fool who married the adulteress.
According to Matthew, because Joseph was a good man, he decided to divorce her quietly to try and salvage both of their reputations as much as possible (Matt. 1:19). However, an angel, who could have been Gabriel, appeared to him in a dream and confirmed Mary’s story, telling him to proceed with the marriage despite her mysterious pregnancy. Joseph did as the angel said and married the woman with the reputation of being an adulteress.
Joseph could have been selfish and cut ties with Mary immediately. However, he showed integrity by remaining with her, despite the social repercussions it may have for him. He was faithful to God, and to Mary, when everyone would have advised him otherwise. Joseph ought to be highly revered for his display of integrity, and he sets an example that all Christians ought to follow.
Christians are called to live with righteousness and faithfulness whether other people are around or not. It is vital to have examples of integrity who we can follow and imitate. By looking at the lives of Job, the Hebrew midwives, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Joseph, one can see how one can live with integrity despite various forms of persecution. Follow their examples and seek holiness, both in front of others, and when no one else is looking.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/greenleaf123
Lucas Hagen is a freelance writer, recently graduated from Taylor University with majors in Biblical Literature and Youth Ministries. When he is not writing for Crosswalk, you can find him reading great books, playing guitar, competing in professional disc golf tournaments, and spending quality time with his lovely wife, Natalie, and their fluffy cat, Woodward. You can read more of his writing at habitsofholiness.com.
This article is part of our People from the Bible Series featuring the most well-known historical names and figures from Scripture. We have compiled these articles to help you study those whom God chose to set before us as examples in His Word. May their lives and walks with God strengthen your faith and encourage your soul.
4 Things You May Not Know About Abraham in the Bible
20 Facts You May Not Know About Moses from the Bible
Who Was Mary Magdalene in the Bible?
Who Were the 12 Disciples of Jesus?
Who Was Isaiah & Why Was He Important?