Christian integrity is being highlighted as important now more than ever before. This is partly because we have global news in an instant, and a press that seems to delight in reporting on the failures of high profile individuals. But what is our view of integrity based on? What does the Bible say about integrity? There are many examples of integrity in the Bible demonstrated by our heroes of faith. These were people just like us, with flaws and weaknesses, even these men of integrity did not get everything right all of the time!
What Does the Bible Say About Integrity?
Most people will think of a person of integrity as being someone who ‘walks the walk’ and whose actions match who they say they are. When a person’s image truly represents, through and through, who they are. This doesn’t mean that anyone is perfect – far from it but that they are true to their identity. At times that may mean being humble enough to own their mistakes and willing to address them.
Biblically, godly integrity is rooted in our love for God – when we love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. When our character and behavior reflect God’s love for us and bring honor to Him. It is pleasing to God when we as His children imitate our Heavenly Father. We are God’s ambassadors here on earth and His representatives. It is important then that we reveal the love and grace of God to those who don’t yet know Him.
People are watching Christians, to see how we act and how we react under pressure. But more importantly, God sees and knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Of course, we are accountable to the laws of the land but ultimately for our moral and spiritual integrity, it is God whom we must answer to.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.’”Jeremiah 17:9-10
Three Examples of Integrity in the Bible
In Scripture, through the lives of God’s people, we can see integrity demonstrated by their actions. Those times when they remained true to God and reflected His character to those around them, and down through the ages to us. I’ve chosen three biblical characters who faced challenges on their journey of faith which revealed what was in their hearts.
While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the ten commandments from God, the people of Israel returned in their hearts to Egypt. Without his leadership, did they become scared of the unknown and want to cling to what was familiar? They certainly became impatient with waiting for Moses and asked Aaron to make an idol, a god who they could see.
They made a statue of a golden calf and began to worship the idol as the god who had brought them out of Egypt! God saw what they were doing and commanded Moses to go back down the mountain as his people had become corrupt. God was angry and threatened to destroy Israel and to make Moses into a great nation.
But Moses interceded for the people, He sought God’s favor and asked Him not to bring disaster on the Israelites. Moses based his prayer on the honor of God’s name among the Egyptians, and God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then God relented.
Moses demonstrated true integrity here, there was an opportunity to promote himself – but to the detriment of others. He spoke up for undeserving people, who did not appreciate or support him in any way. This was a test of Moses’ leadership. And his love and compassion for the people with the desire to fulfil his God-given commission, shine through!
There will be opportunities for us all to serve God through serving one another – which is not for affirmation or applause but to fulfil our calling.
King Saul had become jealous of David’s God-given success in battle and his popularity among the people. So much so that he was pursuing David and threatening his life. In this story, Saul took three thousand men with him to search for David in the Desert of En Gedi.
Along the way, they came to some sheepfolds where there was a cave. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself – but this was where David and his men were hiding. David’s men saw this as an opportunity to strike, and even quoted God’s word ‘to give his enemy into his hands.’ David crept up in the darkness of the cave, unnoticed by Saul he cut off a corner of his robe.
Immediately after, David was conscience-stricken that he had done such a thing. He came out of the cave and called out to Saul. In this exchange, David showed his mercy, that he could have used the opportunity to kill Saul but refused to harm the Lord’s anointed. Even Saul recognized the truth here, that David had treated him well, even though he was treating David badly!
This was a test of David’s integrity, not to promote himself but to wait for God’s timing. David, against the advice of his men, was determined to trust in God and wait on Him.
There may be opportunities for us to advance into our God-given destiny, and companions who are encouraging us to do so. But if that requires an action that is spiritually or morally wrong then it is a step too far.
At the beginning of the book of Acts, we find that in the early church no one was in need. This was because the love and unity among the believers meant that they gave generously to support one another. Those who had land or property were willing to sell what they had and brought the money to the apostles to distribute.
Joseph, a Levite from the island of Cyprus sold a field that he owned and brought the money to the apostles, laying it at their feet. He gave willingly all the proceeds from the sale of his land. Joseph brought his offering to the apostles trusting them to act justly in caring for those in need.
The apostles re-named him or gave him a ‘nickname’ a name that they felt represented his character more. Joseph means ‘may he add’ but they recognized in him the gift of encouragement and from then on called him Barnabas ‘son of encouragement.’ This test of Barnabas’ priorities revealed that he loved God wholeheartedly!
It is easy to say that we are wholehearted in our love for God – until we are challenged to demonstrate love and trust through our actions. There may be occasions when we are asked to love generously and even sacrificially. It may not be about financial giving, but about our time, or service, and to trust in God’s care and provision for us.
Lack of Integrity in the Bible
Are there examples of lack of integrity in the Bible? Of course, there are – the accounts in the Bible focus on God’s relationship with humanity, based on His righteousness. Truth and honesty, the foundations of integrity are characteristics of God. But we should not be surprised when we as people fail…
Lack of Trust in God
Israel was in the wilderness, the beginning of their wanderings, they arrived at the Desert of Zin. But there was a shortage of water and soon the people grumbled and verbally attacked Moses and Aaron. They blamed them, as their leaders, for the predicament they were in.
Moses and Aaron sought the LORD at the Tent of Meeting and God gave them instructions on how to proceed. Moses was to take the staff – the symbol of his God-given authority and gather the people together, in front of a rock. Then Moses was to speak to the rock – as he did so water would pour out of the rock in front of all the people!
Rather than doing what God had said, to speak to the rock, Moses struck the rock twice with the staff. Water gushed out and provided the people and their livestock with water to drink. But God was displeased with Moses and Aaron:
“Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Numbers 20:12Numbers 20:12
Moses and Aaron accepted God’s righteous judgment of their actions. Momentarily, Moses acted out of his own experience and he did what he had done before at Horeb. But in relying on his own knowledge and experience he disobeyed God’s command.
Did Moses think because he had to strike the rock at Horeb for water to come out, that it was insufficient to speak to it now? He was rebuked by God for showing a lack of trust, in sight of everyone, which dishonored God’s name.
Are there areas where we are asked to be attentive to God and to trust in Him? Are we being challenged not to rely on our past experiences, but to step out in a new way? Our tendency is always to want to do something more, bigger, and better. But it may mean doing something that we feel is less than we have done before – but for the greater glory of God!
Lack of Respect for God’s Word
It was spring, the time when kings go off to war but King David sent Joab, the army commander out with the Israelite army, and he remained in Jerusalem.
One evening David couldn’t sleep, so he went for a walk on the roof of his palace. From there he was able to see a beautiful woman who was bathing, in what she thought was complete privacy. David first sent messengers to find out who she was. Then, when he found out that Bathsheba’s husband was away at war, he sent messengers to fetch her to his palace – and he slept with her.
Afterward, when Bathsheba found out she had conceived she sent word to David regarding her predicament. To try and cover his sin, David sent for Uriah, her husband, with the excuse of obtaining a report on the war. But Uriah, after reporting to the king, did not go down to his own house. He was a man with integrity – loyalty to his commander and army comrades would not allow him to relax and indulge while they were still in danger.
A second night passed but Uriah still did not go home. So, David sent him back to Joab with a note, to isolate Uriah in the fighting and abandon him when under attack. With this death sentence, it was unsurprising that soon Uriah was killed in a battle.
When Bathsheba heard that Uriah had died, she mourned for him. Then David brought her to the palace as his wife, and she bore him a son. But the LORD was displeased with David:
“Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?” 2 Samuel 12:92 Samuel 12:9
David when confronted by Nathan the prophet, accepted God’s righteous judgment. He acknowledged that he was responsible for Uriah’s death and had grievously wronged Bathsheba. He had broken God’s law and dishonored God’s name in the sight of Israel, which had tragic consequences.
It is easy to see the failure of integrity here in David’s actions, but where did it start? Was it with complacency, and self-indulgence, to no longer lead from the front? There are some responsibilities that are ours, but it can be easier to pass them to someone else, especially the unpleasant tasks. There are some things that are hard work – but part of our role. Just because we can hand them off, doesn’t make it right and ultimately our actions reveal what is in our hearts.
Are self confidence and self indulgence the downfall of Christian integrity?Tweet
Benefits of Integrity in the Bible
The benefits of integrity throughout the Bible are many and begin with the peace of a clear conscience and knowing that we are pleasing, and honoring, God. There is the sense of God’s presence, of walking securely with Him and His favor, blessing, and future blessing, upon our lives.
True integrity must come with humility, out of intimacy and dependency on God. Otherwise, there is a danger of thinking that we are ‘doing right’ – which can soon spill over into the ugliness of self-righteousness.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”Micah 6:8
The three examples of integrity in the Bible that we’ve looked at reveal the integrity of God. He is merciful, gracious, and faithful toward us. The blessings and benefits of integrity that we receive are not because of our self righteousness – because who could stand? They are all about God’s loving care – often He is more gracious to us than we are to each other.
Moses became one of Israel’s greatest leaders and most prolific writers. But far more than that, he was a man who met with God ‘face to face’ and who knew God as an intimate friend.
David became Israel’s much-loved poet, songwriter, and warrior king. But far more than that he was known as a man after God’s own heart and in the ancestry line of Jesus.
Barnabas began as an encourager of others, and was known as a man of good reputation with the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. He was commissioned as a missionary evangelist by the Gentiles of the Antioch church. God multiplied and blessed Barnabas’ ministry, and eventually he was recognized as an apostle!
Three Ways Christian Integrity is Important Today
What does integrity mean biblically? We come back to loving God first and foremost and keeping Him central in our lives. The characteristics of godly integrity demonstrated in the examples shared here are to serve humbly, to show mercy, and to love generously. Why? Because they all reveal trust in God for Him to fulfil His plans and purposes in our lives. No one is blameless and true biblical integrity demonstrates godly repentance, forgiveness, and restoration, which we all depend on.
To love God wholeheartedly brings a desire to honor Him, to be a light for others where He has placed us, and to be a part of the body of Christ. These are the three reasons why Christian integrity is so important!
To Honor God
We are in a spiritual battle, and the first item listed as part of our spiritual armor is the Belt of Truth. It is the truth of the Lord Jesus that, spiritually and morally, holds everything together. Standing for the truth of what we believe in by our words, is sharing the gospel. Living the truth of Jesus Christ by our actions, honors and glorifies God.
To Be a Witness to Unbelievers
Without truth, we are vulnerable to attack, damaging and destroying our witness, and bringing dishonor to God’s name. The failure of moral and spiritual integrity by any Christian, but particularly by those in the public eye, is damaging and detracts from the gospel message. Our spiritual leaders need accountability, but also prayer and support from the fellowship that they serve.
To Build the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ
Christ is coming back as a bridegroom for His bride – a radiant, blameless, and holy bride. No one knows the exact time of Christ’s return, and we need to be prepared and ready. We have a personal responsibility to pray for those who are in leadership in the church and to support and encourage each other. But also to examine ourselves, accountability begins within – we all need prayer!
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”2 Thessalonians 2:16-17