The Pursuit of Integrity (Isn’t What You Think)
Integrity is pretty important. No person wants to live without it. But how often do we really stop long enough to question what “integrity” actually is?
If you’re anything like me, integrity makes you think about someone who is incredibly godly and righteous. They don’t lie. They’re humble. And they spend way more time in Scripture and prayer than I do. Those men and women inspire us… and they should.
While they may have integrity, the reality is this: integrity is more of a how than a what.
Pursuing integrity doesn’t mean that we have attained righteousness. Rather, we take hold of Christ and claim Christ’s righteousness as our own by faith alone. As many have reminded us, our works are empty and the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that made it necessary.
Integrity means “wholeness” and “completion.” Pursuing Christ with integrity means we lay down any of our own righteousness and confess its worth garbage (Isaiah 64:6, Philippians 3:8). When we embrace the authenticity-paradox, living for Christ without guilt or shame because of the grace of God, then we will find ourselves walking in integrity.
Remember this: the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16); we need to confess our sin to be declared holy (1 John 1:9); we need to be broken to be made whole (Psalm 51:10, 17); and the sinners are made saints (Ephesians 2:13, 19).
Because we’ve been fully known and fully accepted, there is no need to hide. Romans 6:8 provides an excellent foundation for Christian integrity: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We see how God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners (fully known), Christ died for us (fully accepted). We embrace biblical integrity by pursuing Christ with our whole self, without shame over our sin, brokenness, and ugliness, because we know that we aren’t just those things – we’re also redeemed.
This is a message we desperately need. Pastors, youth workers, parents, and students need to be reminded that we are more than what we do. The promise of the gospel is one of freedom. Then why do we still carry guilt, shame, and the pressure to appear godlier than we truly are?
As students wrestle with the weight of expectations on their shoulders, relieve their burden through the proclamation of grace. Invite them to a life of integrity, because the freedom of Christ is liberating and burden-lifting.