INTEGRITY may seem to be rare these days, but here are four ways to notice it in others as we nurture it in ourselves.
If there’s one thing we can trust it is consistency. Even a poor standard, consistently applied, can be trusted — it is reliable. But in terms of integrity, there is something charming in a regal sense in someone who is so faithful they will not bend their standards. My wife is one of these sorts of people. (I’m much more flexible.) Flexibility is at its worst when we can be ‘talked around’ too easily. Sometimes we just need to know when things are non-negotiable. Yet, we also show most integrity when our consistency is prepared to make way for the exceptional exception.
This is the hardest thing to do. As a Christian I can’t help but be aware of the instances and the amount of untruth I am willing to engage in. Whether it is that I don’t have the courage to challenge others’ lies, especially friends and those I don’t want to hurt, or I don’t have the humility to challenge my own pride on occasion, is beside the point. A huge part of wisdom and maturity is being able to attend faithfully to the truth, no matter the cost. The truth costs. What costs hurts. We need to be willing to bear the burden of such cost if we are to be known for our integrity.
Justice and acting rightly (righteousness) are inherently linked. We decry all the injustices of our culture (sending back ‘the boats’, abuse of children in immigration detention centres, etc), but we are less interested in acting rightly in the midst of our own lives. This is especially the case when we are in a hurry. That is when we are tempted to cut corners and do the wrong thing. The most blessed of all of us is the person who sees when they don’t act rightly as impetus for acting rightly more often — a faith worthy to such a high regard of the kingly standard: repentance.
The diligent do this; they take responsibility for everything they did, ever do, could have done better, and did not do that they should have. They may also be prepared to take responsibility for that portion of the account that is in dispute. And God will sanctify them every skerrick of the way. Those who accept responsibility believe more ardently in reconciliation than they do in a justifiable recrimination. They understand that reconciliation starts in one person’s heart and it is possible in all situations with God. In essence, the responsible person has the humility to be wrong, to be sorry, to forgive, and to notice the problem is often in them well before it is in the rest of the world.
The words of Psalm 15 come immediately to mind when I contemplate integrity. Those on a journey of integrity will gain much wisdom in reflecting on this short psalm.
To show consistency, speak truthfully, act rightly, and accept responsibility is to bear a dear cost. Integrity costs. Morality is a constant burden. But if we are God-faithful, we will find ourselves willing to pay that cost more and more often.
When we notice integrity in others we ought to commend them through encouragement. When we nurture integrity in ourselves we earn others’ genuine affirmation.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
Credit to Tim Healy and Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia, for the structure used by me, here, is theirs. Credit also for their image, which I have used.