January 31, 2022

4 Components To Live With Integrity

But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 1 Kings 22:16

Your reputation is what people think of you; your character is what God knows you to be, the mental and moral qualities that are distinctive to an individual. Someone once said that you can easily judge the character of a person by how he or she treats those who can do nothing in return–how he treats those who are not in a position to retaliate or reciprocate.

In recent years society has gone soft on demanding integrity.   By default, we have adopted a pragmatic “get the job done” mentality. Women by the tens of thousands have become victims, many of whom have been reluctant to raise their voice and say, “He violated my trust and took advantage of me.”

While integrity is the very bedrock of a society, our thinking has grown fuzzy over the importance of the issue. Believe it or not in my file is an article about a certain city where the city council had made a decision to legalize prostitution, and to guarantee that only girls of good character would work.  The ordinance demanded that the girls would be licensed by the city: “Only upon satisfactory proof that the applicant is of good character.”

Integrity is moral and spiritual uprightness. It is a personal choice that one makes–a decision to hold himself or herself to an ethical standard, regardless of the consequences.

Our English word integrity evolved from a Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete.  In this context integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistent character. As such one may judge that others have integrity to the extent that they act and practice the values they feel are important.

When General William Dean was a prisoner of war for three years during the Korean conflict, he was allowed to write one letter home. To his son he wrote, “Bill, remember that integrity is the most important thing of all. Let it be your aim.”

Integrity is not measured in percentages as the percentage of free throws that someone makes in a basketball game, or a pitcher makes in putting baseballs in the strike zone. You’ll never hear a broadcaster speaking of someone saying, “This man has 73% integrity!”  Either you have it or you don’t. A husband is not 50% faithful to the vows he makes at a marriage altar. Either you are faithful or you are not, and anything less that absolute fidelity is a prelude to a broken home.

Wrapping up today’s commentary, may I ask you to respond to a few questions of practical importance:

Question 1: Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you if you knew that he had cheated his way through med school?

Question 2: Would you invest your money with a stock broker who had been convicted of fraud?

Question 3: Would you fly in an airplane that had only a 50% chance of landing safely?

And why is integrity so important? Issues of life and death are dependent upon the character and integrity of others.

Reflect on the following true illustration. A surgeon told a new nurse to keep track of the number of sponges that were used in the course of an operation. He counted out 12 sponges. At the end of the procedure, he asked the nurse how many she had retrieved, “Twelve, doctor!” she replied, and then the surgeon moved his foot that had concealed another one on the floor. That was her last surgery with that doctor. There are times when integrity can be a life-or-death issue.


Resource reading: Proverbs 4:1-19