The American Heritage Dictionary lists the following entry for integrity:
in-teg-ri-ty (¹n-te-g“r¹-t¶) n. 1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. See Synonyms at honesty. 2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. 3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
The synonyms for the word include other words like honesty, honor, honorableness, incorruptability, uprightness, moral soundness, virtue, purity, morality.
It’s a disappearing art in our world, I’m afraid. Where are the men and women of Christian integrity? A study of the scriptures will remind us all of the importance of this very important trait.
The word integrity occurs in the scripture 16 times in 16 different verses. The word translated “integrity” in the old testament is one of two words, derived from the same origin:
tom, tome – completeness; fig. prosperity; usually (mor.) innocence:–full, integrity, perfect (-ion), simplicity, upright (-ly, -ness), at a venture.
tamam, taw-mam’; a prim. root; to complete;in a good or a bad sense, lit. or fig.,trans.or intrans. (as follows): –accomplish, cease, be clean [pass-] ed, consume, have done, (come to an, make an) end, fail, come to the full, be all gone,
be all here, be (make) perfect, be spent, sum, be (shew self)
upright, be wasted, whole.
tummah, toom-maw’; innocence:–integrity.
It was first used in Genesis 20 with regard to Abimelech dealing with Abraham and Sarah. You remember the story – that Abraham and Sarah agreed to deceive Abimelech and tell him Sarah was Abraham’s sister rather than his wife. Abimelech said, “In the integrity of my heart and the innocency of my hands…” And the Lord said, “Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me:” (Genesis 20:5-6).
We need men and women like Abimilech of old who can keep integrity not just in their behavior but in their hearts. Integrity of heart kept his hands innocent.
In I Kings 9 – the Lord promised Solomon, “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.”
Then when the Lord and Satan were discussing Job – in Job 2:3 – “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Again in Job, the word his wife used was integrity – “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” Those closest to him – his wife and children – those who know him best, who love him most – even they would use the word integrity to describe him.
And at the end of Job’s saga – Job 27:5-6 – Job said, “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” and then in Job 31 – “Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.”
Integrity was the cry of David’s heart in the Psalms:
Psalm 7:8 – “The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.”
Psalm 25:21 – “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”
Psalm 26:1 – “Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.”
Psalm 26:11 – “But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.”
Psalm 41:12 – “And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.”
Psalm 78:72 – “So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”
The Wise Man of Proverbs made three references to integrity:
Proverbs 11:3 – “The integrity of the upright shall guide them…”
Proverbs 19:1 – “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”
Proverbs 20:7 – “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.”
Let us commit ourselves anew to being men and women of integrity. Let us walk in integrity, talk with integrity, and live life in such a way that like the Psalmist David we can say, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me…” and like Solomon we can be guided by “the integrity of the upright.”