“He who walks in integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will be found out.”
Doctors may disagree on what makes a person ill and the cause of our sickness, but they are all united in what makes a person whole and complete. In other words, we may go into the hospital with one leg less but we will never leave with one leg more because doctors are all united in what a healthy body looks like.
Politicians see it the other way around. All politicians agree that the country is sick, but they can’t agree on what a healthy country looks like. What one political party suggests as a solution to the problem of societal sickness is viewed as worse to the other party than the present state of things. But conservative, liberal or moderate, politicians all agree that the country needs to be made whole.
We may never agree on what makes one physically incomplete or what makes a country politically whole but Jesus, the great physician and king of creation, knows what makes us spiritually incomplete and how we can be spiritually whole again.
Jesus is in the business of making people whole again. He once “restored” a man’s hand “to normal, like the other” (Mt. 12:13; cf. 15:31). But the miracles were never supposed to be an end in themselves but rather a means to an end. The miracles teach us valuable lessons about what Jesus can do within us today. Each healing miracle of the great physician is a paradigm, a miniature picture or physical illustration, of how he can restore us to spiritual health and wholeness. In fact, this is the primary aim of Jesus’ mission, “to restore all things” (Mt. 17:11; cf. Col. 1:20).
This concept of wholeness and completeness brings us to an interesting word we find scattered throughout the Bible: integrity. Defined negatively, integrity means uncorrupted, undivided, sinless. Defined positivity, integrity means wholeness, completeness, oneness.
So a person who has integrity is the same person all the time. He is fully integrated. This is the essence of God’s character revealed in his personal name, “I Am Who I Am” (Ex. 3:14). That is, whatever God is, he is that all the time. His character is changeless and eternally consistent (2 Tim. 2:13). With him there is “no variation or shifting shadow” (Jas. 1:17). He “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He doesn’t behave one way with one group of people and behave another way with another group (see “Hypocrites!” Mt. 23). He is the epitome of integrity.
But are we fully integrated humans? John is right when he described God as “love” (1 Jn. 4:8) because God loves all the time no matter what. Even his judgments are consistent with his love because love is integral to lis character. Can that be said of us? Could a person say, “(insert your name here) is love” and be speaking the truth? Is it even possible to be a fully integrated human?
I believe the answer is a resounding “No” outside of Jesus but an equally resounding “Yes” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). The “old self” “corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Eph. 4:22) is dominated by the desires of the flesh which are “in opposition” to those of the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). But Jesus can create a “new self” “in the likeness of God” who is fully integrated “in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). To be fully integrated apart from God is absurd. But by the grace of God in Jesus we can make real steps to be people of integrity.
In the passage we began with (Prov. 10:9) integrity means blameless in conduct. One who lives in a blameless way will live in security. He is certain of the course he is following and doesn’t have to look over his shoulder. He doesn’t fear retribution from man or God because he lives with integrity. Living with integrity is essentially living by faith or trusting obedience in God's word (Hab. 2:4).
By faith, integrity is achievable. David was a man of integrity (1 Kgs. 9:4). He even asked God to vindicate him on the basis of his integrity (Psa. 26:1,11). He called upon God to “search” and “try” his heart to “see if there [was] any hurtful way in” him (Psa. 139:23-24). Job was also a man of integrity. Even when the devil tried to crush him with evil, his wife railed against him and his friends accused him of living in some secret sin, Job held fast to his integrity (Job 2:3,9; 4:6; 8:20; 27:5; 31:6, etc.). The apostle Paul spent much of his second letter to the Corinthian church defending his integrity because it had been called into question (see for example 2 Cor. 1:12-24).
Integrity has a direct correlation to trust. It impacts every relationship in life. Friends cease to be friends when they learn that we lied to them, deceived them or acted hypocritically. A loss of integrity forfeits trust. The American public’s trust in their media, in their politicians, and in their beloved Hollywood idols has dissolved because of huge moral and ethical failings. Every relationship from friendship to government is shaped by the question, “Can I trust them?”
The corrupt system of world under the power of the evil one is utterly irredeemable and irreconcilable (Eph. 2:2; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12). It is reserved for the fires of judgment. However, those in Christ have passed from death into life, out of darkness and into light (Jn. 5:24; Col. 1:13-14) where, by the power of forgiveness, we can grow into maturity, “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”, the only human who has ever been fully integrated (Eph. 4:13,16).
Are you maturing in your integrity? Can others trust you and depend on you? Does your word count (Mt. 5:33-37)? By the power that works within all Christians (Eph. 3:20) we can be people of integrity and, in the resurrection and new creation, be fully integrated humans!