No matter how you choose to live your life, there will be consequences. Sometimes the consequences will be the painful results of missteps and poor choices. But sometimes the pain will be the result of righteous living. That’s right, doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good and it doesn’t always pay off in the short term. This is the “problem” of integrity.
Every superhero franchise has the picture of the dastardly bad guy who lives high on the hill—Superman’s Lex Luthor, Spider-Man’s Harry Osborne, Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk. Without regard for the little guy, these villains live in plenty while the everyday man scrapes and struggles to get by and lest you think this phenomenon were just an element of fiction, consider the pages of Scripture.
Abraham wandered about the desert while faithless kings enjoyed every delicacy the desert could offer. Joseph sat in a prisoner’s dungeon while lesser men dined in the palace above. David huddled and hid from cave to cave as a fugitive when he had already been anointed King of Israel. In one place David honestly recalls, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Ps. 27:13).
Today, the problem of integrity shows up when you report all of your income on your taxes because you know that there is One who keeps a record that is more exacting than any accountant’s audit. The problem of integrity shows up when you get to your job on time and put in an honest day’s work instead of coasting by because there’s no one standing over your shoulder—all the while recognizing that your real Boss is ever present. The problem of integrity shows up when you gag your own mouth instead of speaking your mind and giving voice to your doubts and frustrations because you recognize that every word will one day be accounted for.
The word “integrity” comes from the word “integer” which means “whole.” To have integrity is for your heart, your mind, your words, your actions and your motives to be united. If you’re honest, that sweeping definition of integrity rules you and me out entirely doesn’t it? We never have all of ourselves on the same page about anything worthwhile. No, you and I constantly battle double-mindedness and the waywardness of our carnal mindsets and sinful desires. So does that mean that we cannot walk in integrity? No—but it certainly does mean that we can’t walk in our own integrity. We need a perfect integrity that comes from God Himself through faith in Jesus Christ.
Perfect integrity belongs to Christ and if we are in Him, we can appropriate that integrity to our lives. For us, that won’t look like perfection but it will look like consistent maturation. We will be ever-growing instead of settling for the low standards of character and conviction offered up as the norm in our society.
You know, integrity comes with its problems but have you considered the alternative? Have you not seen that those who shun the gleaming garments of integrity in Christ for their own tawdry fig leaves of self-accomplishment and pride are the phoniest of all! Eventually others begin to see through the many cracks in their facade. Their white-washed walls fail to mask the stench of their rotten souls. They become entangled in the web of their own lies and conceit. Their families can’t look on them with honor because they are not honorable. Friend, if your ego and your hubris have inflated your life with hot air, I beg you to bust your own bubble by acknowledging your need for a Savior. You may already be a Christian but still be plagued with pride that has caused you to miss the many areas of inconsistency in your life. Ask God to open your eyes and speak to your heart today.