A synonym of honesty is integrity. Random House Dictionary defines honesty as “truthfulness, candidness” and integrity as “honor, uprightness.” A common definition for integrity I learned in the military is “doing what is right when no one is looking.” In fact, two leadership characteristics the Army instills in its soldiers are honor and integrity. King Solomon knew the importance of both:
“The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them… Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” (Proverbs 11:3; 19:1)
From the very beginning God has demanded men of integrity to lead His people. A man who lacks integrity or has done something to tarnish it should immediately resign from any elected position. Two things happen with this: 1) God is honored by this action, and 2) man sets an example for others.
As far back as the time of the exodus, God wanted men of integrity to serve as leaders of His people. In fact, the first judicial system established for God’s people required integrity:
“And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?’ And Moses said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.’ So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.’ So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. So they judged the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves.” (Exodus 18:13-26)
We are a far cry from a judicial system filled with men and women who are persons “of truth, hating covetousness.” And worse yet our legislature and executive branches bow to such a system.
We often wonder why we have such a corrupt government and I can explain it in two simple reasons: 1) we get the government we deserve, and 2) we re-elect men and women who clearly lack integrity. God made it very clear the type of man He expected to lead His people, so clear that even the young ruler Solomon could understand it:
“And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the LORD said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, “You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.” But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And as for this house, which is exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and will hiss, and say, “Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?” Then they will answer, “Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the LORD has brought all this calamity on them.”’” (1 Kings 9:1-9)
Any questions? Does this not explain America’s dilemma? Some might counter and say, “Ah but this was specifically addressed by God towards Israel.” True but the governance principle clearly was applied to our country; the Founding Fathers made this abundantly clear, as we shall see beginning July 5th at Aletheia Group L.L.C.
Without integrity we not only fail at leading our country, but we also—and more importantly—fail at leading our children.
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)
A man who lacks integrity, and worse yet prospers financially because of it, will teach his children how to cheat, deceive, and lie.
So then how should we live our lives when it comes to integrity? Billy Graham says it well:
Honesty should be applied to every daily act, not just special circumstances. Every dishonest word or behavior, no matter how small it seems, makes you more resistant to God’s truth and spoils your witness to others. Small acts of dishonesty typically grow into larger ones and eventually become the hallmark of your life.
Is that not true of America? Have we not for several generations accepted small acts of dishonesty that have now grown to larger ones to the point that it is the hallmark of our government and in many cases business? No wonder people are jaded by politics and business.
But it is easy to point the finger…what about you? What about me? Have I allowed a small act of dishonesty to enter into my behavior? Do I realize if I do so and people see it and know that I am a Christian that I am spoiling my witness? Why would a person listen to me tell them about Jesus when I act probably worse than them? Christians are not the only honest people and far too often they are as dishonest if not more dishonest than nonbelievers.
We must do an integrity inventory of our lives but it is best if we have someone else audit our conduct. David had the right idea:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Now that’s what I call an integrity inventory.
Search ME, O God…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers
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