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Integrity is a great concept. It is about who we are, who we really are. We are more than image. It is our inner self, that matters. But today, too much emphasis is put on the externals.
Where do the externals get us? There have been many cases in recent years of role models failing in their example. They are often role models because of the externals. Whether they are entertainment celebs, sports stars, and yes, ministers of the word, these failing models have had things in their lives that have brought about public condemnation, and a fall in popularity.
In this world of instant “news” and social media it doesn’t take long for iniquity to be exposed. But do we fail to remember that it isn’t public opinion that should keep us on the “straight and narrow.” Solomon wrote, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out (Proverbs 10:9).”
The Hebrews writer puts this in context for us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).” Are we mindful of God’s view of us? Do we live with integrity, or do we hope that somehow our “secret selves” will be hidden?
Integrity is much under-appreciated today, however. It in part comes down to self discipline, something that a “if it feels good do it” morality shies from. When I was at university, one professor speaking on the idea of discipline said, “As a parent you have about 18 years to instill discipline, then it is up to the child to make it their own.” How archaic that sounds in 2018. I have witnessed a shift over the years as an educator. From parents totally supporting teachers, to “I can’t tell them off, they are my friend”, to “I can’t discipline them they might hurt me.” But it is not the outward, even in youth, that should be the driving force in integrity. It is heart motive. The desire to be good, and to have relationship with God and man.
It is heart motive that is difficult to hide, it is often the herald, of the failings we would like hid. “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15: 18-19).” Yet, how often do we hear people make a really hurtful, selfish, or rude statement, only to conclude “only joking?”
I started this post with allusion to celebrities, but really the focus here is on ourselves. Are we people of integrity? Do we have a heart motive of service? Do we seek to live godly lives, or do we try to hold a little back for ourselves? Lord, help us to be people of integrity.