Keep on Walking With Integrity
by Kendrick Diaz - December 31, 2019
How has our integrity measured up in the past year? Are we still striving to do the right thing even when no one’s watching?
Walking With Integrity. Those who attended a COGWA Youth Camp in 2018 will remember this was the camp theme that year.
Have we thought of those three words since we packed our luggage and said good-bye to our friends at camp last year? Or has the theme “Walking With Integrity” been stored away in the filing cabinet of our minds and really not thought about much?
Let’s pull that folder out and refresh ourselves on that essential topic.
What was integrity again?
Charles Marshall, author of Shattering the Glass Slipper, defines it this way: “Integrity is doing the right thing when you don’t have to—when no one else is looking or will ever know—when there will be no congratulations or recognition for having done so” (2002, p. 142). Most people in today’s world want to come up with their own definition of “right,” but we know that it is God’s job to define the “right thing.”
The right thing isn’t subjective; it isn’t left to individuals to define it for themselves. The right thing is objective, and it always has been. And God outlines—in black-and-white terms—the right thing in His commandments.
Consider the apostle Paul’s commentary on God’s law. He said, “But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good” (Romans 7:12, New Living Translation, emphasis added).
To have integrity is to live by God’s Word and to recognize His commandments as the ultimate definition of what is right and good. To walk with integrity is to live, as a daily habit, what is right and good.
But there’s something else that’s important about integrity.
Who is really watching us?
The rest of the quote, “when you don’t have to—when no one else is looking or will ever know,” is equally important because it implies that true integrity is especially measured in the absence of people, when no one’s there to administer consequences or accountability.
For the past year, every day while we were at school or work, probably no one who really understands God’s law was watching us. Not our parents, counselors, pastors—none of them. We had free rein to do what we wanted.
But God was watching.
In fact, He observed every action, word and thought.
God posed this rhetorical question through the prophet Jeremiah: “Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and the earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24, NLT).
We may be able to escape from the view of our parents, but there’s nowhere we can be that isn’t within God’s sight. He sees all. Even when we think no one is watching, Someone always is.
That’s a comforting thought to consider if we’ve been walking with integrity. It’s encouraging to know that God sees and recognizes our efforts even when no one else does.
But it can also be frightening to contemplate if we’ve been dishonest or hypocritical—if we’ve been one person at church services and another person outside of church.
What do we do?
We all compromise our integrity at times (Romans 3:23). In the past year, I would venture to say that all of us have messed up—probably more than we’d like to admit. But God won’t stop working with us because of an occasional sin—if we repent and recommit to walking with integrity.
Whether it be at school or work, situations will come up where we will be tempted. It’s inevitable. Maybe we’ll be pressured by our friends, or maybe we’ll be tempted by something that involves only us. How do we plan on handling that? After all, our parents won’t see us, right?
Those are the times when we have to make a choice—to follow God’s commandments or to give in.
The decision is ours.
Let’s do the best we can to live our lives based on King David’s words in Psalm 26:11: “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity.”
For more insight on this topic, read “There’s a Proverb for That: Integrity.”