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: (1 Kings 9:4)
Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.
The word “integrity” stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
When I think of integrity, words like honesty, morality, and ethics come to mind. These are things that are displayed outwardly, but they stem from inside. Integrity is a matter of the heart.
The Outside: More and more, I have come to realize that it is not just what we see on the outside (or what we display to others) that is important. However, it is difficult to really see a person’s heart and true motives. All we can really do is go based on what we see on the outside.
The Inside: In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, Jesus said that the things that come out of our mouth (and, by implication, the actions that we do) come from the heart. He said that it’s not necessarily the things that we do that condemn us – it’s what’s in our heart that condemns.
Time: We may be able to fake the outside for a while. We can pretend to be one thing while thinking something else or wanting something else. There is one thing that will bring the outside and inside together: time. Time will reveal the truth of what you really are and what you really believe. I’m sure that we’ve known people that seem to change and act completely different (many times in the 18-25 age bracket) – time simply revealed the truth.
How to change: The change always occurs from the inside-out. If you want to change something about yourself, you must address the inside if it’s going to last. Many times, you have to get to a point in your life that you realize that you have to make a change. When you really believe it in your heart, that passion fuels you to be able to make the change on the outside.
If there is someone you know that needs to make a change, the same principle applies. It must start in their heart. And you can’t do it for them. You can encourage them and show them the importance of making the change. But it ultimately lies with them.
I also wrote about “4 Motivations to Change,” outlining 4 basic steps to bring about change in your life.
Have you realized the importance of integrity?