Whatever Happened to Integrity?

“Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity” (Job 31:6).

Webster’s simple definition of integrity is: “(1) the quality of being honest and fair, (2) the state of being complete or whole.” The Bible’s definition of integrity is “moral soundness.” I think you would agree with me that integrity seems to be lacking today in virtually every area of our society – in politics, business, and even in religion.

Two men surveyed thousands of people and performed hundreds of case studies to determine the characteristics that people most desired in a leader. In virtually every survey, honesty or integrity was identified more frequently than any other trait. Those findings should come as no surprise. If people are going to follow someone, whether into battle or in business or ministry, they want to know that their leader can be trusted and will do exactly what they say. No hypocrisy. No duplicity.

But look at where we are today. Integrity seems to have been tossed aside like an out-of-date article of clothing, a faded relic of a past age. We live in a materialistic culture that glorifies exactly the opposite of moral soundness, where bad behavior is emulated and held up as something to be praised and desired. Notice, for example, the people who usually grace the covers of celebrity magazines or are the guests on late-night talk shows. Very few could be called decent role models. These days, even an elected leader’s personal character is supposed to be treated as a wholly private matter. How have we come to this point?

The Scriptures make it very clear just how important character and integrity are in a person’s life, especially that of a leader. Throughout the Bible, God focuses on the fact that He is faithful — that He is a God Who can be trusted, Who does not lie, Who keeps His covenants and promises. God can be trusted because He is trustworthy! Jesus had integrity. He said, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (John 8:46). He not only spoke the truth, He lived it. He IS truth!

That’s exactly the point. Integrity isn’t what we say, it’s what we are and how we live. It always comes down to the issue of character. It’s not just doing the right thing — it’s having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is exactly how God is, and this is how His people should be. “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7). Time after time, the Bible commands us as believers to be men and women of excellent character — not that we’re sinless or perfect — but people who “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22).

In a society where evil is called good and good is called evil — where gangsters, the greedy and the godless are held up as heroes — it’s not easy, but so very important that God’s people live right and do right and show the world that character and integrity DO matter! Let’s remember and practice what God says: “The integrity of the upright shall guide them” (Proverbs 11:3a).