Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Heart of Integrity – Goal of the Upright

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

~Proverbs 11:3 (NIV).

Paul Koptak places before us some indelible imagery in his NIV Life Application Commentary on Proverbs, with which to explain integrity:

“[This proverb] imagines roads filled with dangers or rushing white water rivers filled with treacherous rocks. One would be glad to have a guide in such situations, and integrity promises to be that guide.”

And, of course, we all relate. Life is full of snares and tests; of our patience, our courage, our honesty, our love, our faith... the list goes on. Integrity is important to have stowed—a requisite strength—because we often don’t perceive the tests of life until they’ve just passed us; our vision is so limited.

We just don’t ‘see’ most of the time. Integrity arms us to live more faithfully.

An Analysis of ‘Integrity’

Integrity is the means to an upright (or righteous) end—it’s the very basis of righteousness. It is like a ‘break-glass’ alarm; we don’t care for integrity until we find ourselves on that thin glacier, trembling for dear life. Then we must have it!

It is important to make the three-way connection between the heart, integrity and righteousness—for the Bible does not easily separate these (see, for instance, 1 Kgs 9:4; 1 Chron. 29:17; Pss. 25:21; 78:72). The heart is the seat of our intentions—from which everything inside of us comes (Matt. 12:34). If we have integrity we have a solid, reliable heart—we’re upright. It is notable in Proverbs that the heart and mouth are intrinsically linked; the negative angle suggests a weak heart converts to coarse and duplicitous speech.

Duplicity is harrowingly easy—we’ve all tasted it; routinely if we’re honest. Integrity and duplicity are, of course, rank opposites.

If holiness is the domain of God, integrity is the domain of the person after God. Integrity is functional trust-worthiness; it is the basis of an effective response, a moment at a time, when the rubber hits the road of life. Integrity is who we are when no one else is looking. It’s the negation and rejection of falsity.

Our Challenge – Harnessing the Present Fortified with Integrity

When we deduce all of the foregoing our screed is simply ‘choice.’ “Choices set us on a trajectory toward good or trouble.”[1]

It is never more important to be people of integrity now; for history is just that—history. We can only ever make good with what we have now. Now is where it counts.

For when our ‘now’s’ are treated to a heart of integrity, history will inevitably honour us, and we by it, will honour our Lord—all the glory going to Him.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Paul E. Koptak, Proverbs – NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 334. The earlier quote at top was from page 317.

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