As Christians everyone expects from us to walk and shine our light to the world just like our Lord Jesus Christ did. We are often faced with challenges that require us to make decisions that uphold our integrity as Christians or conform to the ways of the world. Our true character is revealed when we are at liberty to do whatever we want, and the environment allows us to do so. With this information, we would therefore ask, “what is integrity?”
Integrity is the quality of having strong moral and ethical principles that one follows at all times even when nobody is watching. This means you are the same person in private and public. You do not change your character. You, therefore, portray the same virtues in church, at work, at home, and with friends. A person with integrity is gracious, trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, patient, and keeps promises.
This does not mean that one is perfect, but we strive to be at our best. Our minds are keen on maintaining these virtues at the same time. For example, given a choice, anyone would want to take a nap or skip a day at work especially when you know the boss is not around but is that the right thing to do? When working with an intern, one would feel tempted to burden them with all the work instead of helping them learn more. It would feel right with the excuse that you are helping them learn more, but is that right? To uphold our integrity, we need to often think about how we would want to be treated if we were in the other person’s position.
It is wrong for a Christian to respect his/her pastor and disrespect members of the church or other people outside the church. Every person is God’s creation, and they deserve respect. Equally, God expects you to act right in and out of the church. God is everywhere. You should therefore do right according to his word even when no one is seeing you. He sees in the dark and He knows the meditations of our hearts.
Matthew 5:14-16 We are the light of the world and that means we shed light on non-believers. We show them the way in doing right. In all our ways, we need to show the true values of Christianity. One of the biggest challenges that many Christians face is honesty in business and paying tax when no one is watching. We are tempted to trade our goods and services for more than we should and pay less tax than we should. We feel justified by the tough economic times. While other people may not know, our God in heaven is watching. In Matthew 22:21 we are commanded to obey our legal duty of paying taxes. As Christians, we need to honor the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What about in a family set up? Our integrity is first tested in how we treat members of our family. We are expected to be kind and loving towards each other. In the same way, you cannot shout at your boss at work, do not raise your voice at those you live with. Help each other out with chores. Be patient with one another. In this way, we help the young children grow up holding close Christian values. In a nutshell, we can say that integrity is about ‘being real’ in the Christian faith. Living right with God. Doing what pleases Him.
Our Lord Jesus lived according to the teachings he taught. He treated sinners with the same love that he treated his disciples. He defended a sinful woman from being stoned to death. He also allowed a sinful woman to wipe his feet and anoint them. He washed His disciples’ feet during the last supper. He treated children with the same compassion as he treated adults. In his ministry, sinners were as important as believers and he wanted them to see the light.
The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy. In his ministry, our Lord Jesus taught against the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees. They were more concerned about their image in public. They taught things that they barely followed, and they were keener on destroying the ministry of Jesus. They craved public recognition more than they wanted to do the right thing.
How can you tell if you are a person the upholds integrity?
If three different people from your family, workplace, church, and random friends were asked to describe who you are, would their description of you be the same?
How can we improve on our Christian integrity?
Reading the word of God daily and allowing it to make a change in our lives helps us uphold our integrity. We cannot uphold Christian values without the help of God. We need to understand what is expected of us through bible study and prayer. We also need to develop the discipline to do the right things even when we are tempted to do the wrong things. Make a list of the virtues that you have a problem upholding. Make sure you look at them every morning. Ask God to help you uphold them. Look at the list in the evening while meditating upon them. See if you have made any progress.
Let us therefore strive to do the right as the Holy Spirit guides us. We cannot live right on our own but when we surrender to God, He gives us the grace to overcome challenges and temptations.