What does it mean to live a life of integrity? Check out this excerpt from my latest book, Hypocrisy Exposed:
One of the character traits that we must seek to walk in as believers is integrity. To have integrity means to be a whole person. This is the opposite of hypocrisy, since hypocrisy is about living a life of duplicity. Integrity means that you are the same person in private as you are in public. It means that who you are on the inside is who you are on the outside. It means that you do not make a place for hidden sin, and that you allow the Lord to continually refine any impure motives. It means that you have character and walk in holiness of heart, action, and speech. This does not mean that you are perfect, but that you walk in the light, live in the truth, and bear the fruits of repentance. While the hypocrite constantly portrays a public persona that is vastly different from their private reality, the person of integrity has nothing to hide.
Here is an integrity check for me as a preacher: Who I am in secret is more important than who I am in the pulpit. How I treat my wife and kids is more significant than how I am perceived from the platform. If I can “preach the paint off the walls” but am consistently a jerk to my family, I have a serious integrity problem. If I can wow a crowd with great insights and powerful statements, but have no authentic devotional life in God, I am more of a performer than a preacher. If I can teach, exhort, and prophesy, but am living in ongoing hidden sin, I am walking on very dangerous ground. Gifting is important. But it is time that we put more emphasis on personal integrity than on gifting and ability to minister publicly. Without integrity, gifting becomes tainted and will not survive the long haul.
The person of integrity can be secure in the Lord: “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known” (Proverbs 10:9). Unlike the chronic hypocrite, there is nothing to hide or keep covered. There is no need for a whitewashed façade because who you are on the inside naturally matches your external reality. You don’t have a secret private life that needs to be covered up. Again, this does not mean that you are perfect and have no areas that need to be refined; we are all in a growing and sanctifying process. But a person of integrity has a purity of heart and is not wearing a phony mask to conceal who they really are. They are committed to truth and growing in character.
A believer who walks in integrity realizes that God is the ultimate judge and that He sees everything about us. There is a fear of the Lord that reminds us that God is not fooled by a public persona. We can deceive ourselves and we may be able to deceive others, but God is not mocked and He sees right through us. It is good to remind ourselves of this often because it is too easy to forget that while people look at the outside, God is looking at our heart, hearing our thoughts, and weighing our motives. Recently, I have frequently been meditating on Hebrews 4:12-13 to remember these truths.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
It is also good to remember that sometimes we think our motives are pure, but we may not realize what is truly behind our behavior: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2 ESV). This doesn’t mean we should walk around in condemnation or be overly introspective, always trying to dig up dirt in our hearts. But we should allow the Lord to shine His light in our souls, be open to His correction, and be ready to repent when He shows us areas that are in need of purifying.
Let’s embrace a lifestyle of character and integrity that will pass the test of time and eternity!