‘Integrity’ is defined as ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles’ or ‘the state of being whole and undivided’. It comes from a world that means intact and is connected to integer (a whole number that cannot be divided).
So, when we speak of a person of integrity, we are speaking of someone who is mature, whose inner motives, thoughts and heart
Proverbs 20 looks at a number of areas where God wants us to work in our lives and make us people of integrity:
- Our use of alcohol and intoxicating beverages (v.1). The person of integrity is not deceived by these things as well as other substances that are mind-altering or controlling. We are to be filled with God spirit rather than drunk with wine (Eph 5:18).
- Our attitude toward authority (v.2). We will show proper respect for the ‘kings’ in our life, whether they are monarchs, politicians, employers, policemen, etc.
- Our attitude toward strife (v.3). We will not deliberate meddle with strife. We will cease from it and use wisdom in dealing with arguments, division, and difference. Proverbs 17:14 tells us to leave off contention before it is meddled with.
- Our work ethic (v.4). The person of integrity will show wisdom in how they work. They will not delay or be sluggardly. They will work when it is time to work, so that they can eat when it is time to eat. They will not love sleep, but will get up and get to work (v.13). They will delay gratification, not attempting to get rich quick which almost always leads to trouble (v.21).
- Our relationship to others (v.5). The man of understanding is able to draw out the thoughts, counsels that lie deep in the hearts of others. This shows a genuine concern for others that is much more than just light, superficial friendships.
- Our reliability and loyalty (v.6-7). The man of integrity does not just ‘proclaim’ his goodness and faithfulness; he actually walks (lives) a live of integrity that his children can observe and be blessed by.
- Our trust in the Lord (v.9). Integrity is not something we can manufacture on our own. It comes from the Lord working in our life, saving us through faith in Jesus Christ, and making us pure. Integrity is then living out who we already are in Christ. Not only do people of integrity trust the Lord for salvation but also for each step of our goings (v.24).
- Our business dealings. People of integrity do not have double standards and different weights and measures that they use to get ahead (v.10,23). They are honest and use the same standard for everyone. They don’t cheat to get an advantage. They are not manipulative in their purchasing strategies (v.14). They do not foolishly pledge (co-sign on a loan) for others (v.16).
- Our actions (v.11-12). Talk is cheap, but actions show what we really believe and who we really are.
- Our words. People of integrity will use their words to impart knowledge which will be like a precious jewel more valuable than gold or rubies (v.15). They will also not engage in talebearing (gossip) about others or flattery (v.19). They will not curse (speak in a disrespectful manner of their parents) (v.20). They will also consider carefully before making a promise (v.25).
- Our attitude toward forgiveness and revenge (v.22). People of integrity do not try to get even; they trust the Lord to deal with evil in His time and way.
- Our attitude toward sin. People of integrity, like a king, will deal firmly with wickedness and allow God’s spirit to search their hearts for sin (v.26-27). They will also accept chastening rebukes that cleanse away evil and deal in the same way with their children (v.30).
- Our respect for the young and old (v.29). People of integrity will not discourage the young people, but will be excited about their strength and enthusiasm. They will also respect the older people with the grey heads and all the wisdom they have to offer.
Have you been made pure by the gracious work of God’s salvation? Or are you trying to manufacture your own purity? You cannot make your heart clean or purify yourself from sin. All human attempts of purity and integrity will fall short (Prov 20:9).
But for those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, they become new and receive a new identity in Christ. They are positionally pure and have the joy of being daily purified more and more as God works in them. They also have the promise of a pre-determined destiny – to be like Christ.
With that in mind then, we should be allowing the Lord to work in us in all these areas. What areas do you need God’s help with today?