“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
Despite their common interchangeability, having good morals and having integrity are two separate things. Anyone can agree that stealing, lying and murdering are wrong and immoral. People can even agree that gossip, unkindness and lust are not “good morals” or standards to live by, but do you actually keep yourself from engaging in any of those things? That’s what integrity is. It’s an honest way of living, being exactly who you say you are and living by the standards that you hold others to.
Integrity is a shortcut to the heart. It gets past all the pretending, the rule following and the head knowledge, and examines the heart and its values. These values should be reflected in our behavior and in how we treat others and what we believe about ourselves, too. As Christians, we should be changed by what we know about Jesus and how He loves us. Many of us are quick to claim that we believe God’s word and agree with His commandments, but if that were the case, wouldn’t it be more evident in our lives?
Unfortunately, it’s never that easy. If it were, we would all be living with integrity all the time! But instead, we wrestle and struggle with understanding ourselves and our desires. We don’t always do what we say we do, or want to do, and we don’t live our lives reflecting our heart’s true values. We see this same internal battle in Paul where he writes in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Even Paul struggled with committing to what he knows is right! Life gets messy and it doesn’t seem so black and white. Doing the right thing isn’t as clear and committing to the right thing seems even further away and impossible to do.
Paul goes on to explain in Romans 7 that it is our sinful nature that lives in us and pulls us away from doing the right thing, even when know what it is and desire to do it. This is simply a repercussion of our original sinful nature and is an area of our lives that we have to trust with Jesus. We are to rely on Jesus’ goodness, grace and forgiveness to flood our hearts and to make up this gap.
Thankfully, God isn’t interested or impressed by what we know or even by what we do. Of course, He desires for us to live in integrity, but He’s interested in our hearts and what is fueling and motivating us to love, honor and glorify His name. He wants our hearts to be continually repentant toward Him, to live in His grace and to extend the same love to others! If we focus our effort toward this, we will look back on our lives and see one that was lived in integrity and in truth.
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