So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Psalm 78:72 NKJV
God prepared David and took this gentle shepherd-king, and presented him before the people as the one who would love and care for them with integrity, a pure heart and the anointing to lead Israel, his holy inheritance. Psalm 78:71-71 The Passion Version
Do we even think about the importance of integrity in our everyday life? Probably not until something or someone lets you down does it even cross your mind. The Passion Version expands verse 72 and makes it clear the qualities David had as a leader were integrity, a pure heart, and the anointing. As I read these scriptures, I realized that integrity is something that is only in our control. Conviction of the Holy Spirit and our conscience can help remind us to live with integrity, but in reality, the choice is up to us. My integrity is just that, my integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. A person with integrity always seeks to reflect their ethical standards regardless of circumstance. It is something each person must develop within their own selves. A person without integrity has no internal boundaries or borders when temptation, tests, and trials arise. The quality of integrity shows up during the challenges of life. How will we respond? It is something we all want others to have in their relationship to ourselves!
There are many scriptures that talk about the not only the blessing of integrity but also the problems of those who live dishonestly.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
Proverbs 20:7 The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him.
Reading these scriptures, it seems obvious that everyone would choose to walk with integrity, right? However, we know it is not the case. Remember when Peter vowed he would never betray Jesus, and of course he did. Fear caused Peter to break his own vow. But the good news is we see God’s grace, mercy and anointing, strengthening Peter to the point he was martyred for his faith. In 2 Kings 5, we find the amazing story of Naaman, a commander of the army of Syria. He had leprosy. God connected him with the prophet Elisha, Naaman obeyed Elisha’s instructions and was healed. Naturally, he was grateful and wanted to give gifts to Elisha in gratitude. But Elisha said no. Unfortunately, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant out of greed, went to him, lied, ask for the forbidden gifts. His greed overcame his loyalty and showed his lack of integrity. Elisha called him out, and he went from Elisha’s presence a leper. As a leper, he could no longer be the prophet’s servant. He missed out on being part of some amazing miracles.
As believers, people expect us to walk in honesty, tell the truth, and be people of our word. Sadly, due to fear, like Peter or greed like Gehazi, our flesh often dictates our actions. So how do we grow in our integrity? First, by identifying what your core values are. The ones you refuse to compromise on. Find out where fear or greed may be areas of temptation and build up those walls. I believe as David worshipped God, God grew bigger and more real to Him, which allowed him to honor the things God honors. When he could have killed King Saul, he chose not to. He was a man of integrity. When he messed up, he owned it. A man of integrity does not have to be a perfect person, but he needs to own up to his mistakes. Gehazi, when found out, tried to cover up his actions.
This week, I admit, I dealt with two situations where integrity was breached. One was with a lawyer, the other a medical clinic. I am trusting the Lord to work through each circumstance, which is out of my control, and see Him bring good from them. I don’t think either of them deliberately set out to dishearten me, but they did. So my choice is to forgive and walk on. I don’t want to be a stone thrower of accusations or set myself up as an example of the integrous person around, because I am not. I can only choose to do my best to be a woman of integrity, relying on the Holy Spirit’s help. With a fresh understanding of how important it is to others for me to keep my word, I walk on, being quick to forgive.
Father, I ask you, help us in this area. I know we all want others to walk integrity toward us, but we need your help to do the same. Thank you for the promises we read in your word that come from walking in integrity. Fear and greed are two major areas where your people stumble. Please show us any place where our walls are down. As we grow in our trust in You and of You fear and greed will not have such a hold on us. Forgive us when we fall short, help us make it right, in Jesus’ Name.