By Melvin Twigg Mason
Integrity is defined as, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty; and the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.” Yet in Chapter 10 of his book, “Disciplines Of A Godly Man,” author and pastor R. Kent Hughes uses the first few pages to give various statistics showing the lack of integrity in America. This includes everything from how much we cheat on tests to how often we steal from our employers; how much we lie to save face or feelings, and how willing we are to blur the line between good and evil. Let’s look into this first chapter of the section on Character entitled, the Discipline of Integrity.
Besides all of the shocking data concerning the absence of integrity among our fellow citizens, two other statistics stand out the most:
1) there’s very little difference in the percentage of dishonesty between Christians and secular society
2) women tend to bring more integrity to the workplace and to lifestyles than their male counterparts
Brothers, these things ought not be! Hughes states, “Integrity is one of the greatest needs of the church today. The Church needs people who not only refrain from blatant lying, but are free from hypocrisy. Men, the experience of Ananias and Sapphira [whom the Lord killed because they unnecessarily lied and defrauded the early church, Acts 5:1-11] tells us that our integrity matters to God. We need to declare with Job, ‘Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me’ (Job 27:5).”
The author takes the time to quote Psalm 15 in its entirety, and says that biblical integrity requires all of our conversations to be purposefully truthful and intentionally loving, thereby fulfilling Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love.
John 8:32 says, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” NOTE: Unlike most translations of the Bible, some people will often quote this verse as saying, “the truth will set you free,” but the radical difference between SET and MAKE is like the difference between someone unlocking your prison cell and swinging its door open for you to go free, versus someone stepping inside your cell and grabbing you by belt & collar to push you through that door! In the same way, Hughes contends that the benefits of integrity will make you free in five different ways:
- In Character – one’s good (or bad!) reputation will speak volumes in the absence of words
- In Conscience – having a clear conscience enables you to stand strong in the midst of the storms around you
- In Intimacy – Hughes indicates that the integrity of the soul ensures a level of deep intimacy with God
- In Elevation – integrity increases ethical behavior and personal honesty, creating a positive imprint on those around you
- In Evangelism – personal integrity is like an “evangelistic magnet;” as Jesus said, “if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” – John 12:32
Hughes echoes a well-known Christian philosopher with this bottom line, “The avoidance of one small fib may be a stronger profession of faith [to a non-believer] than a whole lengthy discourse on a Christian philosophy.” Gentlemen, let us walk in the Discipline of Integrity.