Integrity is defined, in part, as being moral, ethical or honest. We watch the news everyday and find that people of influence and people on whom we depend such as our teachers, governmental leaders, and those in other positions of authority seem to have lost their moral compass. We see that our financial institutions have been led by people who have not had integrity as a character trait. We also see that our governmental leaders have not dealt with us in honesty. How do we, as Christians, react to the demoralizing news we see and hear each day?
First, we must understand that this is not a modern problem. From the beginning of time, man has participated in dishonest practices. Eve was deceived by Satan and then deceived Adam and sin was introduced into the world. Rebekah and Jacob conspired to defraud Esau of his birthright by duping Isaac.
Second, we must recognize that men of this world do not submit themselves to God’s plan for righteousness. Therefore, they will not act righteously, but will follow their own desires and do whatever it takes to satisfy them.
Lastly, since injustice and dishonesty are a part of the world we live in, we are taught again and again in the scriptures that God’s people may not be able to stop evil, but they cannot participate in it. God’s people are a people of integrity. We must deal with God honestly and must live with our fellow man in integrity.
When children of God realize we have succumbed to the ways of the world and engaged in deceitful and outrageous behavior, we repent and change. As in the case of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, we will make right the wrong we have done. We make retribution for our dishonesty. Once we have realized our error, we cannot wait to correct that error. The sins that David participated in could hardly be undone, but, as evidenced in some of his Psalms, he prayed earnestly to God for forgiveness. He had the worldly authority to sweep his actions under the rug, but, as a man after God’s own heart, he could not do that.
Often, Christians find themselves victims of man’s injustice and evil activity. How do children of God react to such wrongs? As hard as it seems, we are not a people of vengeance. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, we are told to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with all men. And it tells us that no one is to repay others with evil for the evil done to them. But, we are to seek good for all men.
God has always taught his children to be honest and upright people. The Proverbs tell us we are to be honest in our own business dealings in 11:1 and 37:21 and also in Jeremiah 22:13. Romans 12:17-21 tells us how a Christian is to deal with all men, good or evil. We are to provide what is right in the sight of everyone. We are people who are to overcome evil by doing what is good. We are not ones to be drawn into the evil that is done to others or to ourselves.
Impossible? Unless we sacrifice ourselves completely to God, it is. In Romans 12, we are told those who devote themselves wholly to God will not be conformed to this world. We will not think or act as the world does. We will not think too highly of ourselves. We will use sound judgment. We will love without hypocrisy. We will hate evil and cling to good. We will bless those who persecute us and not curse them. We will leave the vengeance for wrongs done to us in God’s hands.
We see the evil man does to others. We may even feel the pain of evil done to us. God’s people know full well that this world is not our home. There is a place prepared for us where such things do not happen. So, we do the hard things the world will not do. We will not return evil for evil, we pray for those who persecute us. And, as Romans 12:18 says, as far as it depends on us, we will be at peace with all men. The peace we are most interested in is the peace found in God. We are encouraged to find that peace and we are told how to do it in Philippians 4:6-8: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.” What consumes your mind? These things or dwelling on the bad things done to you, a way to get even, hate, or vengeance. Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”