The book of Proverbs is full of verses which encourage people of faith to live with integrity. Too often we overlook the kinds of teaching in the Bible which stress a high level of continuity between God’s righteousness and our conduct. I would encourage you to take another look at the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament and reacquaint yourselves with what it teaches us about integrity. But I would summarize biblical teaching on integrity in the following ways:
First, people of faith who have integrity tend to only promise others what they can do and follow through with what they say. Even those of us who truly try to be people of our word can fall into the temptation of over-booking ourselves in an attempt to please our friends, family and bosses. When we do so, we often end up unable to follow through on our promises, and our integrity comes into question. Remember, “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) It is better to disappoint people by refusing to do something you cannot do than it is to promise something you can’t deliver.
Second, people of faith who live with integrity take responsibility for their actions and give credit when it is due. If you have made a mistake, your faith requires you to acknowledge it and work to correct it. This is often very difficult because there is always a strong temptation to take credit for success and blame others for our failures. Integrity requires us to credit those around us who do well and avoid taking credit for successes that aren’t fully ours. Proverbs 11:3 reminds us that “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” People will forgive you, if you take responsibility for your errors. You will lack integrity if you don’t.
Finally, people of integrity are primarily interested in the things that interest God. They actively look out for what they believe is the work of God in their lives and the lives of others. They refuse to take credit for what they perceive to be God’s work. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” A person of integrity and faith will consistently seek God’s leading and be the first one to give God glory for things that go well in life.
Living with integrity is not easy. Life constantly tempts us to take shortcuts, to accept credit that isn’t ours, and to shift blame onto others. But in the end, we must live with our own consciences and we must be accountable to God. It is much easier to do so when we have conducted ourselves with integrity.