Integrity Still Matters
Christ calls believers to integrity; in other words, Christians are to act and react with truth and accuracy indicating an authenticity grounded in Christ. This Christlikeness should be evidenced and implemented in every aspect of life. Therefore, as Christ-followers, we are to deliberately submit our desires, aspirations, and ambitions to the Lordship of Christ. We are not only Spirit-bound but should also be Spirit-led. Without Spirit led actions, we seek to maximize ourselves thereby minimizing Christ’s control in our lives. Christ’s voice directs us to pursue integrity, even when challenged with impossible situations.
In our nation as well as in the church, there has been a falling away, a breakdown, of integrity. We have observed the rapid deterioration of both personal and corporate integrity in every area of life. Compromise is evident in politics, sports, education, business and, unfortunately, in believers within the church. Let me define what I mean by integrity.
There are three Hebrew words that relate to integrity. In Psalm 78:72, we read “David shepherded them with the integrity of heart.” Here the Hebrew word is tom. It is variously translated as simplicity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness, and completeness. For example, in English we use the word integer, to indicate a single, whole number that is complete. In the plural, tom is thummim. This word is evident on the breastplate of the high priest indicating the two sacred lots hidden within the breastplate. This plural word translates as integrity. On the breastplate were 12 different stones, each representing one of the tribes of Israel. Within the breastplate were two items called the urim and the thummim. When counsel was sought from God, the high priest would go into the Holy Place and ask God for guidance. The Scriptures inform us that God would answer the high priest by the urim and the thummim.
As believers, were are called a kingdom of priests. As priests, we need to don the breastplate of righteousness, our protecting armor, thereby providing us with a spiritual umpire in our lives. Therefore, the key to spiritual effectiveness is the integrity of heart. King David shepherded his people with integrity. Likewise, the essential component to spiritual growth is not simply studying the Word of God; it is an important component, but it is not the locus. The same can be stated of prayer and a host of other spiritual disciplines.
David was far from perfect; however, the Scriptures inform us that he was a man with a heart after God. The first ten chapters of II Samuel chronicles a segment of David’s life; as many as 50 character traits are noted in the text. Interestingly enough, all of these descriptors have their root in tom, i.e., integrity. Therefore, we can state unequivocally that David was indeed a man of integrity.
The guiding principle in the Biblical study of the first mention directs us to examine the first time a word, idea, or doctrine is introduced in Scripture. First mention of a word is often the simplest and most understandable example and forms a foundation for subsequent understanding. The first mention of integrity is in Genesis 20 where Abraham lied to Abimelech about Sarah claiming that she was his sister. He did this in order to save his life from the anger of King Abimelech (v 11). This is the first mention of integrity in the Bible; however, it does not deal with Abraham’s lie. Interestingly enough, the issue of integrity relates to Abimelech’s response. The Lord had warned Abimelech that Sarah was another man’s wife. In Genesis 20:4 we read Abimelech’s response, “Didn’t she say ‘He’s my brother,’ and didn’t he say, ‘She’s my sister?’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands, I have done this.” The subsequent verse provides us with the Lord’s reply, “Yes, I know you did this in the integrity of your heart, and that’s the reason I stopped you.” Abimelech demonstrated integrity. As a result, God, the monitor of mankind recognized Abimelech’s plight and affirmed that he had been honest with not only himself but with the Almighty as well.
Since Christ calls believers to uprightness, He alone is prepared to fill the belief with integrity. However, this will not occur until a believer recognizes that without Christ, no level of acceptable integrity can be achieved. This process is a daily dependence upon Him recognizing that in ourselves we have no righteousness. As we humbly direct all desires, aspirations, and ambitions to the foot of the cross, He faithfully replaces our perspective with His holiness. When believers are Spirit-led, personal and corporate integrity will impact every aspect of life.
Dr. Wayne R. Dyer
Vice President Strategic Alliances, Chair Elementary Education