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What Is the Importance of Integrity?

What Is the Importance of Integrity?
Brought to you by Christianity.com

What drives us the craziest in the workplace? When someone doesn’t do their work with integrity. When Bob decided to fudge a few numbers on his report. When Stacey decided to slack off in a group project, allowing for others to do the majority of the work for a task. A lack of integrity drives us crazy, but it also takes everything within us to exercise good integrity ourselves.

Our culture seems to promote taking the easy way, the shortcut. We praise influencers who did, seemingly, nothing to gain riches and fame. And wish we could have the same lifestyles.

But the Gospel calls us to do the opposite. Instead, it asks us to give our all and to do everything as if we’re working for the Lord. For a great example, take a look at the life of Joseph. And he spent a great deal of time in prison before he ever rose to a position of power.

It’s not easy, often doesn’t include an earthly award, but God calls us to this. Let’s dissect this concept of integrity—doing the right thing and doing so with conviction.

Jesus’ Teaching on Integrity

Jesus has a great deal to say about integrity. But we can find one of his most famous examples in the ever-popular sermon series: the Sermon on the Mount.

This passage deals more with spiritual integrity: not making a big show about doing good deeds. I’m sure we can all think of an example of someone who likes to boast whenever they go out of their way to hold a door for someone or drop a little extra offering into the plate on Sunday. Let’s take a look at what Jesus has to say on this.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).

Obviously, Jesus has no issue with us giving to the needy or similar practices (Micah 6:8 encourages helping the oppressed). But he does take issue with people who made a big show about how they had helped someone.

In the Dark Ages of Greece, beggars would often ask for scraps at the tables of rich men (see the Odyssey by Homer for some examples of this). The rich men would oblige, but only because they believed that the gods would sometimes disguise themselves as humble men, to make sure that the rich men didn’t treat them poorly. So they would give in a begrudging fashion so that the gods would reward them.

This passage tells us to do the opposite. Give and care for the needy without seeking an award. Without virtue signaling. We give of ourselves because God gives himself to us. And as Christians, we want to be more like him. To be more like him is to have immense integrity.

The Mark of the Christian

We’ve heard that faith without works is dead (James 2). This by no means that our works alone could get us into heaven. They cannot. Scripture makes that abundantly clear. But if we follow Christ, we should look more like Christ.

And we should look more like Christ in our private lives. I’m sure we can think of plenty of examples of people who claimed to be Christian and put on a big show of how “Christian” they were. But in their private lives, they were more like whitewashed tombs. Beautiful on the outside, but wicked and needing a Savior on the inside.

Integrity often marks the lives of Christians. How we treat one another, how we love one another can show our fruit (or lack thereof).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

If we have no love, we do not know Christ. This means loving the people who are hard to love, who give us a hard time, who have hurt us more than we can express. After all, our Savior does so.

Notice how our culture seems to promote the opposite. To cancel people who have slighted us, to seek revenge on those who have wounded us. This is not the Gospel. The Gospel does not call us to be friends with everyone (and does encourage us to keep our distance from corrupt people, 1 Corinthians 15:33). But it also calls us to show compassion for our enemies and love those who do not love us in return.

Integrity Leads to Security

Proverbs 10:9, says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”

Sin has a way of isolating us, making us feel alone. Those who live in sin can often worry from day to day what will happen when someone finds them out. When their sin comes to the light, as Scripture promises (Luke 8:17).

But those who walk with integrity fear not. They know they have done everything with excellence and without fault, so they have nothing to worry about.

Paul’s Teaching on Integrity

2 Corinthians 8:21: For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man.

Herein lies a good reason for why Christians must do everything with integrity. Most believers can agree that in every setting, once someone has found out that you believe in Christianity, they scrutinize you. They watch you and wait for you to make a mistake. Especially believers who have a great deal of fame or a large platform have to exercise a high amount of integrity. As we’ve witnessed over the past few years, a Christian who stumbles can cause many seekers and believers to stumble as well.

Let’s take a look at what else Paul has to say on integrity.

Philippians 4:8"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

This requires us to put to death ourselves. This may mean stepping away from an environment or people who will attempt to sway us away from what Scripture teaches.

Titus 2:7: "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity."

We need to model after Christ. Otherwise, people will find ways to say, "Look, this Christian didn't follow the Bible. Therefore, the Bible must be false." We have a lot placed on our shoulders. Therefore, we need to do everything with integrity.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Trifonov_Evgeniy

Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, book editor for hire, and the author of almost 30 books. More than 1500 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids. Check out her editing profile at Reedsy.com to find out about hiring her for your next book project.

This article is part of our Christian Terms catalog, exploring words and phrases of Christian theology and history. Here are some of our most popular articles covering Christian terms to help your journey of knowledge and faith:

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