Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 22, 2009

Living with Integrity

Integrity touches our lives in more ways than we realize. Integrity refers to the soundness and authenticity of something or someone. It means knowing the right thing to do and doing it. We become people of integrity one choice at a time. Consider the following three things about integrity and the choices we make that determine whether or not we are people of integrity.

Consistency over Compromise | People of integrity choose consistency over compromise. At no time is our integrity better put to the test than when nobody is looking. We are most easily tempted to relax our standards and to compromise when we are alone and away from public scrutiny. However, that’s when we must choose consistency over compromise. And, we should always remember that we are never truly alone because God is always watching (Ps. 139:1-3; 2 Chron. 16:9) and integrity is important to Him (1 Chron. 29:17).

Someone observed that character is what we are when nobody is looking — or when we think nobody is looking. Warren Wiersbe relates an account of Dr. Will H. Houghton who pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in New York City and later served as president of Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. Wiersbe said that when Dr. Houghton became Pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle in Atlanta, someone hired a man to follow him around and report on his conduct. After a few weeks the man reported that Dr. Houghton’s life matched his preaching and that he lived an honest life both in public and in private. Proverbs 10:9 states, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

Honesty over Duplicity | People of integrity choose honesty over duplicity. There is an old backwoods story about a farmer who needed an extra hand for a moment. Seeing a well-dressed stranger, the farmer approached him and said, “Will you watch my mule for a moment?” The stranger quickly replied, “Sir, I’ll have you know that I’m a member of the U.S. Congress.” To which the farmer replied, “Oh, that’s all right. I’ll trust you anyway.”

Proverbs 11:3 states, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”  Integrity means keeping our promises and doing what we say we will do. Expressions of days gone by reveal the higher place integrity once held in our society, expressions such as, “He’s as good as his word,” or “His handshake is all you need.” Imagine what our society would look like if we no longer valued promise-keeping and honesty or doing what we say we will do. Our very lives depend on the honesty of others — from the person who fills our prescriptions to the person who works on our brakes to the people who manage our money. So we must choose honesty and pray that others choose to be honest as well. We must honor our word and resist the temptation to choose duplicity.

Accountability over Corruptibility | People of integrity choose accountability over corruptibility. Integrity is monitored and maintained by accountability. It is too easy for us to rationalize and excuse behavior and to lose perspective in times of adversity and prosperity. That’s why we need to build checks and balances into our lives and surround ourselves with friends who will hold us accountable.

Proverbs 27:6 states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” We need to give permission to those who love us to wound us and to hold us accountable. We can’t always see what is crawling up our back, but others can. We need others because we all have blind spots. There are areas of our lives we think are safe from danger when in reality are being threatened with destruction. Accountability is not always easy but absolutely necessary if we aspire to live with integrity.

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