The noun “Integrity” is subject to about three basic definitions. In its trite and first definition, it means the possession of firm principles. In this context, it is the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards. Secondly, integrity may mean the state of being complete or undivided. This definition is usually used in international law with regards to states or territories boundaries. Thirdly, integrity may indicate the state of wholeness. Within this context, it is the state being sound or undamaged.
In theological parlance, integrity is closely associated with the first definition. The British lexicographer and writer, Samuel Johnson, stated years ago that integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. For every child of God, the knowledge that is the foundation of his integrity is the Word of God. Here are seven meanings of integrity in God’s kingdom.
# 1 Integrity is Faithfulness.
Faithfulness is loyalty, dependability, and trust. Numbers 23:19, states that our God is a faithful God. He is a God of integrity. Faithfulness is often ascertained over a long period of time. The average employer today is desperate for faithful employees. Most employers today may even sacrifice competence for faithfulness. God feels the same way too. He is looking for men of integrity who would remain loyal to Him, even at the cost of their lives.
When we read the story of Caleb in Joshua 14:1-5, we see a man of integrity. He was faithful to God because he defied what his empirical senses saw (Numbers 13:30-33) and trusted God to conquer the land (Numbers 14:24; Deuteronomy 1:34-36). Forty-five years later, his faith was still strong in the Lord.
# 2 Integrity is Trust.
It is possible to be faithful to somebody without trusting the person. Integrity for a Christian is trusting God even when it does not make sense. It is very easy to trust God when all is rosy but it takes a man of integrity to still trust Him when the situation looks hopeless. Joseph in jail, Daniel in the lion’s den, a sore covered Job, Paul in a shipwreck, and many other Bible characters had proven to be men of integrity because they trusted God in spite of their afflictions.
In our consumer world, we do not immediately respond to new brands and we have a distrust for changes. We stick to brands we have known and we can trust. But God expects something different from men of integrity. He says, “Don’t bother about changes and troubles that come your way. Only dare to trust me for I am working everything out for your good.” (Romans 8: 28-29).
# 3 Integrity is Honesty
Honesty is trustworthiness, sincerity, truthfulness, candour, openness, authenticity, and straightforwardness. Honesty is being what we say we are. Numbers 30:1-2 clearly shows us that God expects our word to be our bond. God hates liars and deceitful people.
In the recent past, advance fee fraudsters, popularly known as 419, plagued our dear nation. I believe that the worst thing a believer can indulge in is a fraudulent business. Such a believer not only damages his reputation but that of his home church and Christendom at large. Throughout his physical manifestation on earth in the form of his son Jesus, God did not dupe anybody or misrepresent facts to cheat unsuspecting people. True he may have spoken in parables but these were deep truths that were not intended to mislead, but rather endow lives. The earlier the church in the secular business world stand apart, separated from deceit, the easier it will be for us to evangelize this great nation. Psalm 32:2 clearly states that blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
# 4 Integrity is Moderation
Moderation is self-control, temperance, fairness, balance, and equability. When a Christian displays an insatiable appetite for wealth and money or indeed any other vice, then something is amiss somewhere. One of the most difficult litmus tests of integrity is the ability to walk away from money available to you but which is not yours. Mike Murdock, one of America’s most dynamic speakers, says that what you are willing to walk away from determines what God will bring to you. Greed is at variance with the very nature of God. How about the prosperity gospel we are hearing in churches these days? As far as I’m concerned, the problem is not with the prosperity gospel. Every child of God who is blessed materially and financially is in a better position to serve Kingdom purposes. It is our attitude to the wealth that counts and not the wealth itself. Luke 16:10 informs us that God expects us to be as faithful in very little things, as in the big things.
# 5 Integrity is Prudence
Prudence is forethought, judiciousness, practicality, discretion, good sense, common sense, shrewdness, pragmatism, wisdom, and calculation. A child of God with integrity is always prudent as Joseph was in Potiphar’s house in Genesis 39:4-10. Psalm 39:1 describes prudence as taking heed to one’s ways and not sinning with the tongue. Proverbs 8:5 admonish every child of God to learn prudence.
Integrity is manifesting the prudence of the good and faithful servant in Matthew 25:14-30. The world categorizes people like botanist categorize and classify plants. People always make hasty generalizations and it is the responsibility of every prudent Christian to prove these societal assumptions a farce. For example, there is a general thinking that Pentecostal Christians are secular failures that hide behind the mask of spirituality and godliness. When a Christian manages his business with prudence, he proves the world wrong.
# 6 Integrity is Relationship
Integrity is not a concept in isolation. It is best judged in our relationship with others and our relationship with God. As we have earlier seen, integrity is loyalty and loyalty is often times an evidence of a strong friendship. In Genesis 2, we see the ideal relationship God purposed for man before the Fall. Jesus came to restore man back to his original place of fellowship with God. The Bible further tells us in Exodus 34:14 that God is passionate about his relationship with us. A child of God with integrity can basically be described as a friend of God and someone enjoying a close relationship with Him. Beyond his relationship with his Creator, a Christian with integrity has a relationship with God’s family – the church. The integrity of spiritual hermits is in doubt as many have been shown to be psychologically dysfunctional personalities. Integrity is identifying with God’s family and breaking the barriers of tribal and social prejudices prevalent in the world system.
# 7. Integrity is Love
A child of God’s integrity would be incomplete without love. He may be trustworthy, he may loyal and he may live out the principles of the Ten Commandments but without love, he has missed out on God’s integrity. Love is the basic foundation of God’s commandments. A life of integrity without love would reduce us to the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes that Jesus vehemently spoke against in his time. Galatians 5:14 provide that the whole Law can be summed up in this one command ‘Love others as you love yourself’.
Check out this and you will understand the point I am driving home:
- A politician who loves his country would not loot the treasury.
- An accountant who loves his company or firm would not falsify books.
- A young man who truly loves his friend would not pressurize her into premarital sex.
In the above instances, the restraining power of love would simply impute the persons concerned with integrity.