By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
The Freedom of Integrity
By Clarence L. Haynes Jr.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” – Proverbs 10:9
I went to pick up my daughter from school and as I was driving, my mind was drifting, thinking about this word integrity. Eventually I was brought back to a time in my early twenties when I was serving in the children’s ministry at church. One of the leaders handed me a card. I cannot remember why he gave it to me, but I believe it was a thank you for serving. When I opened the card, he had written one sentence in it. I had never heard these words before, but I quickly realized these words were wisdom for life. Here is what he wrote “Character is who you are when no one is watching.” Over the last three decades of my life, those words have always rang true in my heart.
For a few moments today I want you to think about the freedom of integrity. Every one of us has two lives. There is the life you live in front of everyone else (your public life), and there is the life you live behind closed doors (your private life). The perception of who you are is determined by your public life, which is what you show to the world. The reality of who you are is demonstrated in your private life, which only you and God know. Yes, your family and those you live with can see you up close and can peak into some of your private moments, but there are still parts of you they may not know. I want you to let this question simmer in your heart and mind today. Does the public you match the private you? Is the person you show to everyone else, the same person you look at in the mirror every day? I have discovered that the difference between those two people is your character. So where does your character lie?
In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon reminds us of the security, and I will add freedom, that come with walking in integrity and living a life of character. To sum it up in my own words, when you walk with integrity you don’t have to look over your shoulder. There is freedom in knowing you don’t have to worry if someone looks at your text messages, or checks your emails, or investigates your finances because everything is above board and there is nothing to hide. Can you feel how liberating that is? This is one reason why integrity matters so much. When you demonstrate integrity in the parts of your life that no one sees, you can walk freely in the parts that everyone sees.
As you look through the channels of history, there are countless tales of people who gave the appearance of being men and women of character and integrity. However, when the curtain was pulled back it exposed something different than what they portrayed in the public eye. This is not the freedom God wants you to live with. People who secretly live in sin or who lack integrity live with a constant nagging in the back of their mind, wondering if or when they will get caught and the truth revealed. This becomes an ensnarement to them. Here is how Solomon wrote it.
“An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.” – Proverbs 5:22 (NLT)
Have you ever seen the downward spiral of a person trapped in their own sin? Usually, it compounds, and one sin leads to greater sin which leads to further captivity. The first sin usually requires a cover up, which leads to more sin in the process. Just think about David and Bathsheba if you need an example. This is not the prison God wants you to live in but thankfully your integrity can unlock the prison door and set you free.
Today I want to issue you a challenge. God is calling you and me to walk with integrity and be people of character. The life of integrity is not always the smoothest or easiest of roads. There will be opportunities to compromise along the way. Just recognize that each compromise makes your footing less and less secure, and it is only a matter of time before your world will begin to crumble around you. But if you will choose to walk with integrity, your feet will stand secure regardless of what comes against you.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
As you walk through today, think about these three questions.
- Who are you when the world is watching?
- Who are you when no one is watching?
- What is the difference between these two?
Remember, the real you is the person you are when no one is watching. Don’t spend your life trying to look the part to please the world. Spend your time trying to be the part to please God.
Check out these related Crosswalk.com articles:
- What Does Integrity Look Like in the Bible?
- 4 Excellent Examples of Integrity in the Bible
- Why Integrity Is Important in the Workplace
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Boonyachoat
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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