Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Are you a person of integrity? Perhaps we think of integrity only in certain limited spheres: a business man must stand behind his product, a researcher must have intellectual honesty, a reporter must present the facts of a case or an event. But the Bible makes clear that every child of God is to demonstrate integrity in every sphere of life. This word is found sixteen times in the Old Testament; although the New Testament does not contain the word, it expands on the idea in several places.
The Hebrew word has the basic meaning of completeness, wholeness, and simplicity. Then the word takes on the moral values of perfection, innocence, and uprightness, but always from the point of view of consistency. The person of integrity displays a moral consistency that begins within the heart and proceeds outward without any change. Integrity implies homogeneity of such a high order that wherever you look at a person, or however a person reveals himself, you see the same thing. The plural of the Hebrew word is Thummim. On the breastplate of the high priest were placed the Urim (light) and Thummim (perfection), objects which were used to discover the will of God for Israel in a certain matter (Ex. 28:30). Although we do not know the method of using these things, the idea of wholeness, completeness, and perfection is strongly present.
God informed Solomon that David his father walked in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do all God’s commandments (I Kings 9:4). Though Job lost all, he still held fast his integrity, being a perfect and upright man who feared God and eschewed evil (Job 2:3). David dared to ask God to judge him according to his righteousness and the integrity that was in him (Ps. 7:8). Even though the enemy is deceitful, David will walk in his integrity (Ps. 26:11). He confesses that he is able to do this because God upholds him in his integrity (Ps. 41:12). God chose David to feed Israel, and David did this with integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands (Ps. 78:72). Integrity is a safe guide (Prov. 11:3). The poor man who has integrity is better than a rich fool (Prov. 19:1). When the just man walks with integrity, his children are blessed after him (Prov. 20:7).
The prophets warned Israel when she lived a segregated rather than an integrated life. In Hosea 7:8, 9we read that Ephraim (the kingdom of the ten, northern tribes) is a cake not turned. The life of this nation revealed that she was spiritually inconsistent; she was as a cake that is baked to a golden brown on one side, but on the other side and within she is raw dough. In God’s judgment she was unpalatable, and the reason for this was that Ephraim mixed himself among the people (heathen). Isaiah records God’s complaint over Judah’s outward, religious exactitude (Is. 1). Their sacrifices; feasts, and prayers were unacceptable to God because their hearts were not right with Him. Such a lack of integrity, consistency, and uprightness that the prophet must call Israel Sodom and Gomorrah, and liken Jerusalem to a harlot.
Jesus had the same thing in mind when He called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites! Outwardly they appeared righteous, but inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Pretty hard to distinguish a hypocrite’ from an unturned cake. The inner life of heart, mind, and soul was not integrated with their words and deeds. Foolishly and sinfully they tried to separate the law from the gospel, Moses from Christ, the heart from the hand. Woe to those who lack integrity! James says to all outward professors of Christianity, “Show me thy faith without thy works (if you can), and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). For faith without works is dead, unprofitable, and inconsistent. The beloved disciple instructs us that “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar” (I John 4:20); and “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). The ninth commandment of God’s holy law requires spiritual consistency or integrity, according to Lord’s Day 44: “That even the smallest inclination or thought, contrary to any of, God’s commandments, never arise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness.”
The whole law was fulfilled for us by Jesus Christ, the Man of perfect integrity. The zeal of His Father’s, house consumed Him. He had meat to eat that the disciples did not know, and that was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work (John 4:32-34). With complete self forgetfulness, with undivided heart and, unswerving will, He was always about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).
Perhaps the best test for integrity is to ask oneself these questions: Do I behave myself the same way when I am alone as when I am with others? When I am among the worldly as when I am with the saints? When I am on vacation as when I am at home? If we can say yes, we have integrity!