The Simple Life Of Integrity.
“Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.” – Proverbs 19:1 NLT
What does a person of integrity look like? In our modern culture, we have diluted integrity down into the one-dimensional idea of honesty. If you tell the truth or keep your word, you’re referred to as a man of integrity. But the biblical view of integrity is so much deeper, fuller and all-inclusive. And the Proverbs help us see what the life of a person of integrity looks like. Using comparisons and contrasts, it paints simple word pictures of what the person of integrity does and doesn’t do. The biblical concept of integrity is wholeness. It carries the idea of soundness and completeness and illustrates a life that is non-compartmentalized. It is a life lived entirely for God with no parts held back. It is giving God of my life, not just the convenient parts, and it is allowing God to transform every area of my life, including my speech, attitudes, and actions. Solomon tells us over and over again that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. God is the source of all we need to live a godly, whole and complete life. The person who refuses to acknowledge this reality is designated as a fool in the Proverbs, and a fool is simply one who actively spurns the ways and overtures of God. The fool says there is no God or lives his life as if there were no God in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And the fool is one who hears God’s call but refuses to listen. As a result his or her life is incomplete, lacking in wholeness, and spiritually unhealthy.
Integrity is righteousness lived out. It is visible to the eye. It is when the wisdom, knowledge and understanding we receive from God begins to influence our behavior and speech so that others can see it and be influenced by it. Integrity makes us willing to do the right thing and suffer loss rather than lie in order to get ahead (Proverbs 19:1). Without integrity, we tend to rush headlong into decisions, letting our enthusiasm drive our choices rather than wisdom (Proverbs 19:2). People of integrity still make mistakes, but when they do they refuse to blame God for the consequences (Proverbs 19:3). They don’t practice “fake” friendships, pursuing relationships purely for what they can get out of them (Proverbs 19:4, 6, 7). Instead, they view others through God’s eyes, loving the helpless and hopeless the same way He does (Proverbs 19:17). The integral life is marked by honesty and truth-telling at all times and at any cost (Proverbs 19:5, 9). The life of integrity is the only acceptable form of self-love because it ends up rewarding those who practice it with great benefits (Proverbs 19:8). A person of integrity lives their entire life for God, so they are less likely to get angry when offended or when things don’t go their way. They have a greater capacity to overlook a wrong committed because they understand the fallen nature of man. This God-given patience provides them with respect and protects them from harm (Proverbs 19:11, 12, 19). Integrity understands that ultimately God is in control, and His will will be done (Proverbs 19:14, 21). The integral life is marked by obedience to God, hard work, the constant pursuit of wisdom, and a fear of the Lord (Proverbs 19:15, 16, 20, 23, 24). Integrity encourages parents to create an atmosphere in their home where instruction is God-centered, and discipline is practiced in order to raise children who are God-fearing (Proverbs 19:18, 25, 26, 27, 29.
In the very first chapter of this book, Solomon gives us the reason he is writing them down. “Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just and fair” (Proverbs 1:2-3 NLT). But then he adds, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge” (Proverbs 19:7 NLT). It all starts with God. We must understand that only He can provide us the wisdom, insight, understanding, and discipline we need to live lives of integrity. We can’t manufacture these things on our own. But when we put Him first and allow Him to change us from the inside-out, others will see the change in our lives – in every area of our lives. Our integrity will be visible all those around us.
Father, make us a people of integrity. Change us completely, wholly and make us holy. May our lives reflect that we belong to you and that You are transforming every area of our lives. Let the world see our holiness through our actions and speech. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men