The Importance of Integrity
What is integrity and why does it matter? The specific word “integrity” is used 16 times in scripture, all in the Old Testament, and always refers to “perfection” or ” uprightness” of heart. It was the foundation of Abimilech’s defense in Genesis 20 when he was condemned for taking Abraham’s wife, Sarah, for himself. God acknowledged that Abimalech was innocent of any wrongdoing and did not hold him accountable for what happened. Abraham, on the other hand, was guilty of lying: a consequence of his fear (lack of faith), and an indication of a lack of integrity in his heart.
I find it interesting that in this account it is the heathen king, Abimilech, who is credited with having integrity rather than Abraham, a follower of God. We who know the Lord would aggressively argue that Abraham was the more righteous of the two, but the fact is, at least in this instance, the rolls were reversed.
What we commonly assume about Abraham is, I believe, a reflection of how we think about ourselves. We assume that, because we are believers, we automatically possess integrity. From a spiritual perspective that is true. Because we are recipients of the gift of salvation, the blood of Christ covers our sin and we stand righteous before God. The practical result, however, of that thinking is that we consider ourselves to have far more integrity than is often evidenced in our lives. It is not uncommon for people (even those who profess Christianity) to acknowledge areas where they would be willing to bend certain laws or rules if it proved beneficial to do so. It runs the gamut from “minor” offenses such as lying, to more significant violations such as intentionally neglecting to report hidden income on tax returns. Yes, it is assumed, that “everybody” does it! But those who name the name of Christ shouldn’t! The more alarming concern is that many of these same “believers” are quick to justify such behavior as being acceptable because they are victims of injustice elsewhere. They don’t even consider it to be a matter of integrity.
There are, however, many unbelievers in our world today, who, like King Abimelech, understand the meaning of integrity, and live their lives accordingly. I’m sure Abimelech must have wondered why Abraham would lie about his wife Sarah. Do you not suppose that people today might also wonder about Christians who preach righteousness but abandon it when convenient?
We are believers! That designation carries a certain responsibility. Will you live your life with integrity? Our service to God and our testimony before a lost world deserves no less.