We’ve all heard of the word “integrity,” but what does it really mean? Literally, it means “completeness” or “wholeness.” The idea is of consistent character that comes out of a complete, whole heart. It’s a consistency that comes from a heart that has been made whole in God through Jesus Christ.
You were designed to live whole-heartedly, for your whole heart to be devoted to God. Because of that, your decision-making and roles in life are brought into unity. But, because of sin, our hearts have been fractured up into different allegiances – causing us a great deal of moral and ethical confusion.
When God makes you whole through Jesus Christ, you get to drop the multiple personalities you’ve maintained to keep people thinking well of you. You get to drop them and be fully yourself.
When you have a whole heart, the you on the inside aligns with the you on the outside. Who you are with your church aligns with who you are with your friends, family, strangers, at work and on the internet. You can live honestly and sincerely.
Why is It Wise to Have Integrity?
Our verse today is Proverbs 10:9, which says
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
– Proverbs 10:9
The reason why integrity is wise according to this passage is because it leads to security. When you walk with integrity, you walk like someone wearing hiking boots on solid ground. But, when your ways are “crooked,” it’s like someone walking across a rickety old bridge.
The opposite of the security of integrity is the insecurity that comes with crookedness. Another word for it is probably anxiety. Anxiety is the mental health issue that people struggle most with in America. Now if you’re anxious, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you lack integrity – but if you lack integrity, you’ll probably be anxious.
Why will you have security if you’re integrous? Because you will have nothing to hide.
What Happens When You’re Crooked?
If you don’t have integrity, you’re straying away from God’s straight path of wisdom and being led to crookedness: deception, white lies, cover-ups and anything we do to hide our flaws and follies. But “he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”
We’ve all experienced being found out because we’ve all had crookedness. When you were a child, did you ever try to deceive your parents or teachers and get found out? When you were a teen, did you ever try something crooked and get found out? How about as an adult?
Church Folks Are Prone to Crookedness
Church folks are not immune to crookedness – in fact, they’re probably tempted to be crooked more than anyone else. This is because we know what we should be like and we aspire to be that way, but we’re not yet there. So when we mess up, we have a strong temptation to cover it up.
If we’re not wise, we as a church can get into a pattern of refusing to acknowledge we are not perfect and struggle with sin. Then when we see other church folks who seem to be perfect, we feel like we’re the only ones who aren’t perfect – so we pretend. And soon, we’re all pretending. And so the place where we’re supposed to be most honest is the place we’re most tempted to hide.
What Can You Do If You Lack Integrity?
If you are bent over in your heart with secret sin and don’t know what to do about it, there is good news. God is talking to YOU right now. It’s a voice of compassion not condemnation; a voice of forgiveness, mercy and love.
“God is light, and in him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Part of His character is that He reveals – He already knows you, reveals you and loves you. So many church people pretend to be close to God without actually knowing Him because they haven’t come face to face with their sin. But, “if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie” (v. 6). You can’t have fellowship with God while cherishing some other secret life where you indulge in sin and feel like you’ve gotten away with it.
What’s available to us is “fellowship with one another” and with God Himself through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ (v. 7). And God promises us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us … and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v. 9).
As heavy as the anxiety of secret sin is, the relief is so much greater. Turn to Jesus for integrity and security. Turn from the lies, pretense, hiding and insecurity and have your heart be made whole.
What is “integrity”? What is the opposite?
According to Proverbs 10:9, what are the benefits of having integrity? For being “crooked”?
Why are church folks more likely to be crooked than anyone else?