If you’ve read the news or browsed through social media in the last year, you’ve likely been bombarded with a slew of examples of public figures who have lost their integrity.
Allegations of harassment, espionage, and corruption against political figures to major movie producers have glittered the media. With each new headline, my heart cracks a little more at the evil and brokenness that exists in our world. I’m often confounded, wondering, How could this have happened? Although every circumstance is different, there is likely a widening trail of compromise leading up to every major moral failure. In the face of so much scandal, we would be wise to evaluate ourselves and our own moral character.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
Sin Hurts Us and Others
Integrity matters because it means we are committed to protecting others from ourselves. Every Christian faces the daily tension that the Apostle Paul describes as being “all too human” (New Living Translation, Romans 7:14). We often intend to do what is right, but are tempted to do what is wrong. Practicing integrity by the grace of Jesus Christ builds strength in the spirit to die to ourselves and our sinful nature.
Furthermore, living in wholeness of character not only protects others, but protects us. Proverbs 11:3 warns, "The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” At Calvary Christian Academy, our faculty and staff are committed to teaching and modeling integrity for students. “We do our best to walk with students as we all seek to grow together as a community in our relationship with Jesus. We all need accountability,” shared Steve Mayo, Director of Discipleship at CCA. He continued, “When issues [with students] do arise, we don’t shy away from addressing them. These types of moments for students can actually prove to be defining for them in a positive way... the challenge causes them to make needed changes now, rather than suffer the consequences of poor choices as adults.”
Living righteously—though not always easy—is ultimately for our benefit and protection. Here are three things living in integrity requires that we can begin practicing today.
Integrity Requires Thoughtfulness Integrity is “soundness of moral character.” Therefore, living in integrity requires establishing moral principles. In other words, we need to prayerfully think through what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. As Christians, we would be foolish to think we have the luxury of ignoring new, controversial, or uncomfortable issues and topics. God gives us wisdom through His Holy Spirit and the Bible. Analyze your thoughts and beliefs often and ask the Lord to lead you into truth.
Integrity Requires Consistency Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” To live in integrity requires that we consistently live up to our moral standards. If we say we believe in justice, but do nothing to defend the defenseless, then we are faced with an inconsistency in our character. Steve Mayo, Director of Discipleship at Calvary Christian Academy, explains, “Integrity sometimes means taking the harder road. In the moment, it may seem like compromising or cutting corners will make life easier, but we’re really doing ourselves (and most likely, others) a disservice.”
Integrity Requires Taking Responsibility In order to protect our integrity, we must take responsibility of our actions and exercise wisdom. Ravi Zacharias, a respected international speaker and evangelist, modeled taking responsibility in a statement regarding a lawsuit that attacked his character. In his statement, Zacharias openly explained the situation and denied the allegations. In one area, however, he admitted to error, “I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry,” he shared.
“Integrity sometimes means taking the harder road."
We live in a world filled with humans—broken, needy, humans—whom God loves dearly. So as you practice living in integrity, pray for the people and leaders around you. The Bible says the Lord “scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble” (New King James Version, Proverbs 3:34). When you see someone being brought low by the hand of the Lord, pray that they would see His grace in it, repent, and know His love. And may God help us to do the same if we are the ones whom He needs to bring low.