The word integrity occurs only 16 times in the Bible, and although this might lead us to say how insignificant it might be, I believe it goes to show how rare and highly esteemed that word is.
Integrity is doing what is right, because it is right, whatever the consequence may be. Integrity is a dedication to do that right and honest thing, regardless of the situation or outcome. Integrity is a hard thing to accomplish.
In respect to the difficulty that living in integrity is, God personally calls three men, men of integrity. I mean, I know it feels good when your best friend puts his arm around you and says "gees Jerry, your a swell guy," but when God Almighty Himself, who peers into the depths of the intentions of our heart, says that someone has integrity, He surely means it.
How does character differ from integrity? Simple. Character is doing the right a proper thing, but it leaves the door open for manipulative motives, or motives for self gain. Integrity, on the other hand, is doing something right based solely on the impulsion of knowing that you are pleasing your God by acting and/or reacting in a way that displays your fear for Him, your love for Him, and your dedication to reflect His image. Doing it right because it is. What we do in secret is when we have the most importance audience. Integrity is a radical thing, but God doesn't favor the mediocre.
Like I said earlier, there are only three men that God says are men of integrity.
Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” (Genesis 20:2-9 NKJV)
To start off, Abimelech wasn't even Jewish, but he clearly feared God. Abraham tricked Abimelech into thinking that his gorgeous wife was just his sister, and Abimelech, being the king that he was, decided to marry her. Why not? However, his plans change when God shows up and scared Abimelech out of his pajamas. Abimelech tells God that he isn't guilty, and God agrees with him. God admitted that Abimelech had "integrity of heart." What is important is not who is to blame here, but how Abimelech responded to God's correction. Abimelech chose to do the right thing before God threatened to destroy his nation.
God points out that we are about to sin for our own sake. He wants to see our response. Will our want to do the selfish thing outweigh the call to do the right thing?
Furthermore, Abimelech found himself with a woman that wasn't his. Many times guys find themselves in situation where they think that a girl belongs to them, but she obviously doesn't. He talks, texts, touches, hugs, smiles at, chats and e-mails the girl like she is his, but he is years away from thinking about putting a ring on her finger. I don't care if your melancholic, outgoing or whatever box you willingly put your personality in. You need to realize that there is a right way to relate to women that don't belong to you, and there is a wrong way. How will you react? Integrity is choosing to do the right thing, even when your put in an awkward position by circumstances.
And the Lord said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 9:3-5 NKJV)
God speaks to Solomon for the second time in his life, and he refers to his father, David, as an example. We know David isn't perfect. The word integrity can hardly be applied to a king who has a scandalous affair and a sloppy clean up involving murder. However, why does God call him a man of integrity? It is because David did all that God commanded him. David sinned, but when God told him our to fix it, he did it. No hesitation.
We aren't perfect, and we sin, but what is our response when it is pointed out? When you realize that you slipped, do you have the same dedication to mending your mistakes as David did? Integrity is learning how to make things right, whatever the cost.
On a side note, God was saying all these awesome things about David when he was already dead. A life lived in integrity will always bless those that come after it by serving as an example. Remember George Washington and the cherry tree? ;)
And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:2, 3, 9, 10 NKJV)
Oh boy! There is no way that I can ever relate to the pain that Job went through. God knew that Job had such integrity, that Satan could put him through whatever trial he wished, and Jobs' integrity would not fail. He lost everything, except his nagging wife, which is just as much a trial as loosing your children, but he did not falter. Job saw the truth of Gods generosity. "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" God gives us so much, but when he takes it away we shouldn't freak out. Why would we?
Although we haven't lost all we own along with our children, and left to be annoyed by a pesky wife, we do have crummy days. We all have days when we fight with our parents, say mean things to our siblings or fail that one test we couldn't fail. What is our response then? Is our relationship with God dependent on the blessings that he gives us? Our commitment to do the right thing and honor God transcends any trial that the devil or God can or will throw us into.
The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3 NKJV)
It is integrity, the dedication to do the right thing because it is the right thing, that guides our every day activity. Integrity is a radical thing, but God doesn't favor the mediocre.