Integrity – Living as a Reflection of Christ
Integrity is a powerful word; it is not a reputation (others’ opinion of us); it is not success (our accomplishments). Integrity embodies the sum of our actions and being, and it is not something we have, but something we are. It shows itself in what we do and say.
Made in the image of God, we are reflections of Christ. It started in the beginning, when God created the world, Genesis 1:27 scriptures tell us, “ God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” The Hebrew word for image is tzelem, derived from the Hebrew word tzel, which means shadow. A shadow is not independent but is a reflected image, and therefore to be made in God’s image we are to reflect the image of Him in all we do and say. We do that by imaging God in all His ways 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of the Messiah.”
In short, the Christian command of integrity is a command to both talk and walk in the way of Jesus. A Christian is someone whose behavior and heart reflect Jesus Christ.
If your not sure what that means, we have a perfect example of what integrity looks like, and it is Jesus. Philippians 4:9 says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice.” When we say we follow Christ and His Word, do our actions show that we do? When we say we follow Christ, does our character and behavior reflect Him?
Integrity is when what you say is what you do when your private life matches your public life. I heard that someone once said, “Integrity is what you do when no one else is looking.” It is not the same as your reputation, which is what other people think you are., it is who you are. Proverbs 11:3 says The integrity of the upright guides them, but their duplicity destroys the unfaithful.
Let’s look at one of the Psalms that David wrote, and I want to show you how this Psalm describes how Christ tells us some characteristics as it pertains to how integrity. In Psalm 15, David asked of the Lord: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?” And God answers and says, ‘The person who has integrity.’ Let me explain because the word integrity explicitly is not mentioned, but if we study this scripture, we see how God’s response tells us what integrity is. Let’s break this scripture down to understand what God is saying about integrity.
Psalm 15:1-5 “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous who speaks the truth from his heart (definition of integrity) and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman (definition of integrity), who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord who keeps his oath even when it hurts (definition of integrity), who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent (definition of integrity). He who does these things will never be shaken.”
Do you see how this verse sums up what integrity means without actually saying it?
Now for a few moments, I want just to show a few benefits we gain from living a life of integrity.
- You can walk closely with God (by doing so we align ourselves as a reflection of Him). When David asked, “Who can dwell in the sanctuary of God?” God responds with examples describing describe what integrity looks like, and as such, we can enjoy the ongoing intimate relationship with Christ. Think of a few close relationships in your life. Perhaps you’re married; you have to have the integrity and honesty and openness to commit to one another. Otherwise, there isn’t true harmony, intimacy, and trust. Lack of integrity in any relationship will affect intimacy and closeness. It is also true with our relationship with God. When we are authentic, honest, and walking in Christian integrity, we draw closer to God and have intimacy with him that is described in James 2, “As we draw near to God, he will draw near to us!”
- We have a Built-in Guide. Prov. 11:3, The Bible says that the integrity of the upright guides Him. That means we are not going to have to sit around thinking, “You know if I do this thing, no one’s going to know. No, instead you just say, it’s black, it’s white, and this is right, this is wrong. I will do what’s right.” Your integrity will guide you. This is also the Holy Spirit working through you, revealing right versus wrong.
- We will have Peace in our Heart. When going to bed at night, we will not have to worry, “I wonder if someone finds out! What if I get caught?” “What if my supervisor finds out I did this?!” “What if someone finds out what I am doing?” or “What if my husband finds out that I have been flirting with this guy at work?” With integrity, you won’t have that; instead, you just have peace; there’s no fear of getting caught, getting found out. You have this beautiful peace when you do the right thing.
- We are trusted, respected, honored and have a positive influence on others. If you want great children, then be a parent of integrity. If you’re going to be a leader of your family or a great friend, be one of integrity. If you want to influence the community, then be someone who is a person of your word. When you have integrity, people follow you; honor you; listen to you. They seek your wisdom and advice because you are a person of integrity.
Let me ask you this question: think about it and do not just give a response to what you want to believe, but instead look at what your life says. How would your actions answer this question?
What’s your integrity worth?
Do not just say, “It means a lot to me; it means everything!” Instead, ask yourself, “do my actions indicate what my integrity is worth?” So, for example, let’s say that you lie on a resume to get a job, then your integrity is worth whatever that job pays. You gave your integrity away by your willingness to trade it for a perceived benefit. That’s what my integrity is worth.
Some of you may say, well, the small things are insignificant. For example, maybe you have taken something small at work. Maybe a box of paper to use on your home computer. Well then, that’s what your integrity is worth to you, whatever that box of paper costs. Your actions say is that is what your integrity is worth.
Or maybe you’re married, and finances are tight, so when you buy an outfit, you hide it for a while. Then perhaps you justify it, for example, you buy the outfit and hide it for a few months, then when you put it on your husband says, “you look nice, is that a new outfit?” You say, no, I have had it for months. I know some of you are saying I do that, or what a great idea! No, it is not a good idea; it is what your integrity is worth!
Perhaps you cut some corners or maybe exaggerate a story to be liked, well then that is what your integrity is worth to you. You are giving your integrity away.
Think about it, the adage is true: our walk must match our talk. We should live in a way that our family, church, and friends, co-workers, etc. will know that who we say we are is who we are. When everything is stripped away, our name and character are all we have. Integrity is as important as our spiritual health, family priorities, and personal development. In the long run, integrity is what matters. In Philippians 1:10, we are instructed to “Be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.”
In summary, to be a reflection of Christ, we must strive to align our lives as an image of Him. He is never changing. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is faithful and trustworthy. His Word is everlasting, and as a God of integrity, He desires a life of integrity in His followers.
So when you look at your reflection, what do you see when you ask yourself, What is my integrity worth to me? Am I reflecting the image of God in what I say and what I do, are these traits part of my character? If not, then get into the Word, do some self reflection, ask God for guidance, discernment and courage to make the changes to start living as an image of God.