Learn Humbly // Day 21

Guard the secret theater of your heart. See nothing there that you do not want to see in reality.  — Roy H. Williams

If you only had one month to live, most likely you would want to review your life and examine your character. You would want to do all you could to learn from the mistakes in your past, iron out any wrinkles that had developed, and live your remaining days at peace. You would want your life to be integrated and whole, not compartmentalized and fragmented as we often experience when we’re going through the motions of life and settling for less than we were made to enjoy. If you were living deliberately and passionately and were fully alive, you would want to live with integrity.

This word gets used a lot today, especially in political circles, but what does it really mean? The root of the word integrity is “integer.” As you’ll recall from math class, an integer is simply a whole number as opposed to a fraction. So integrity means wholeness as opposed to being fragmented and fractured in life. When you lack integrity, you end up acting one way at church and another way at work or at school. You act one way with your friends and another way at home with your family. A true sign of maturity and strength of character is to be the same person no matter where we are or whom we’re with. Integrity is wholeness, consistency through and through. “Better to be a poor person who has integrity than to be rich and double-dealing.” (Proverbs 28:6, God’s Word).

As we see in this proverb, we can’t put a price tag on integrity. When you have integrity, it fills your life with peace, passion, and purpose. When you are the same person at work and at church and with your family and with your buddies at the game or your girlfriends at the café, it fills your life with a calm unity. You’re not always positioning and posturing, shifting and spinning, second-guessing who you should be in the various roles and settings of your life.

Today, people seemed to be more concerned about image than integrity. Integrity is the opposite of image. Integrity is when your private life matches your public image. When what you see is what you get – that’s integrity. Integrity is what you are when no one is looking, when there’s no one around to impress. When you’re on that business trip and in a hotel that carries porn cable channels. When the salesclerk gives you back one bill too many. When the line on your tax return could be filled in so easily with a different amount. Integrity requires allowing your true character to take center stage and deciding to reveal who you really are and what you truly believe. “I know my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” (1 Chronicles 29:17).

A huge integrity test is honesty. Do you tell the truth? Many marriages fall apart because of a lack of trust. Partners don’t trust each other because they lie to each other – about money, about other relationships, about their motives. Whether it’s a business relationship or interacting with your children, if you demonstrate a willingness to lie, you will lose the other person’s trust and compromise the relationship for years to come.

When you boil it all down, the real reason we lie is because we don’t love enough. Lying is the easy route, a selfish convenience. It’s taking the easy road, the path of least resistance for your own comfort. If you risk loving, then you’ll tell the truth. The more you love, the less you lie. The more you love, the more you have the courage to tell the truth.

This also means having the courage to admit the truth about ourselves, to acknowledge when we’ve failed and need to ask forgiveness. Especially regarding our own mistakes, the truth can feel unbearable – powerful, painful, and burdensome. We think, If only I could choose again… or What if I… or Why did I… But regret won’t help us become people of integrity unless we transform it into repentance. We have to open ourselves to the truth on every front and operate from a position of honesty. We can do that because of God’s unconditional love for us and the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross for all our sins. The good news is that because of the Cross we can receive forgiveness. We don’t deserve it and could never earn it. But He loves us, simply loves who we are, no matter what we’ve done. He can restore us. He can make our lives whole, no matter how many pieces we’re broken into or how few days we have left to live. He is the source of the integrated life we crave, the one we’re made for.

Personal Challenge

1. How would you rate yourself on the integrity meter? Are you the same person at home and at the office? with your family and your friends? in public as well as in private? Ask God to open your eyes to any areas you need to change and for the strength of character to do it.

2. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle in the center of it. Divide the circle into a pie with eight pieces. Then label each section with an area of your life (for example: family, work, hobbies, marriage, finances, church, leisure, etc.). Now draw a smaller circle in the middle of the pie, and write God in the smaller circle. This represents God’s place in a life of integrity. God doesn’t want a slice of your life; He wants to be the first part of every slice. Is He the first consideration in everything you do?

  • Cindy Heiser

    Great lesson for me! Society wispers that we should appear to be “this” person and drive “that” car and live in a certain house. We all struggle with trying to be what we think others want us to be. This is a great reminder of what integrity is and that integrity is important to God. I will definitely be mindful of my thoughts and actions going forward.