This next army value is probably the one I’ve looked forward to the most: integrity. For a long time, I’ve been taught about the value of integrity, ever since JROTC during high school, all the way through my time with ROTC in college and in the National Guard. More than that, I’ve been lectured on this particular value in the Church.
Integrity is not only one of the seven army values, but also one of the three air force core values. The definition that I was originally taught and that I stuck with is “doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.” Once in basic, I was given the army’s shorthanded definition, which is what I used to modify for the introduction to the series (click here to read). I defined it as, “Do what’s right, both legally and morally according to the Scriptures, and spiritually according to the Spirit.” However, that’s not all of it.
Here is the full definition: “Do what’s right, both legally and morally according to the Scriptures, and spiritually according to the Spirit. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral, Christian principles. It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family and friends, and, finally, the fundamental acceptance of yourself.”
Usually, I have to alter the Army’s definition, but this time there was very little change. As usual, I’m going to break down this definition so that you hopefully will have a better understanding. I hope you find this post challenging, helpful, and motivating.
“Do what’s right, both legally and morally according to the Scriptures, and spiritually according to the Spirit…”
One of the biggest part of the definition is to “do what’s right.” This is a common factor in not only the Army’s definition, but also in the Air Force’s that I was originally taught. Often times in today’s world, we see that people don’t know what right is, or they just choose to do the wrong thing. We, as Christians, should know what it means to do the right thing. We have this handy-dandy book called the Bible that lays out instructions for us to follow. Following the rules and guidelines in the Scriptures are what make us morally good.
This brings me to my next point that in order to have integrity, we must do the right thing according to the laws laid out in Scriptures. I could go on all day about the commands that Jesus Christ tells us to do. The Word of God thoroughly explains the differences between right and wrong. It is wrong to murder, steal, commit adultery, lie in a dishonorable way, and several other acts. However, it is right to honor your parents, love everyone, be obedient, and several other acts.
Paul writes to the Romans explaining this in Romans 7:12-13 (ESV), “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.” We know what is right and wrong because we have the Scriptures that define true morals. The laws and commandments in the Bible are holy, righteous, and good. They didn’t cause death, but sin did.
The final part of this section is that in order to have integrity, we must do the right things according to the Spirit. It is not enough to just follow the rules to make us have integrity. Rather, we also must be able to be spiritually obedient to the Spirit. When we look to John 14:16-17 (ESV), Jesus gives a promise that reads, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
Jesus couldn’t remain on earth, so He asked the Father to give us someone, and Christ even declared it to be better than if He were to stay. Jesus calls this someone the Helper, or as we know Him, the Holy Spirit. When we ask God to speak to us, the Spirit is the one who brings us to understand Him. The Spirit was the one that moves us into becoming a believer. However, there is a very clear line. The Holy Spirit will not move you into going against the Word of God because the Holy Spirit is God. If the Spirit were to cause a person to go against the Scriptures, that would make God a hypocrite and imperfect. There is in no way that is possible. Yet there are countless people, both in the past and present, who are heretics and false teachers, urging “Christians” to go against the Word of God itself. We must do what is right according to the rules, laws, and principles laid out the the Bible. However, at the same time, we must follow the law of God and be obedient to what the Holy Spirit calls us to do.
“… It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you…”
The next section of the definition deals with honesty and trust. Being an honest Christian leads to being a trustworthy Christian as well. How can anyone trust you if you speak lies all the time? The answer is simple: you can’t. With both actions and words, we must have integrity in the Lord and live without deceit.
Ephesians 4:25, 29 (ESV) successfully explains this concept as it reads, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Do you want to be a man or woman of integrity? Then you need to steer clear from lying or being deceitful. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be friends with someone who is encouraging and whose words help build people rather then a negative individual who constantly bring accusations against other people.
Doing all these things will cause people to trust in you more and more. Integrity is key in a team environment. As I said earlier, I considered “doing the right thing even when no one is looking” to be the definition of integrity. If you have friends, family, or a significant other who truly has integrity, then consider yourself blessed. You don’t have to worry about them doing something wrong. You are able to put trust in them and that is something you should be abundantly thankful for.
“… The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family and friends, and, finally, the fundamental acceptance of yourself.”
I absolutely love how this is worded, and not a single word is changed from the army’s definition. Decisions can be extremely tough, and sometimes we have to make a choice that seems impossible. Why? Because God commands us to, either through the Scriptures or through the Holy Spirit. Because we should strive for lives full of integrity. Because making these tough choices means growing in closer, better, ad healthier relationships with our family and true friends. Because making those decisions will shape how you perceive yourself.
Integrity-based choices allow us to grow with family and true friends. Now, I saw true friends for a reason. Sometimes we surround ourselves with the wrong group of people. While sometimes, in the right situation, this may be acceptable, if you are wanting to live a more Christ-centered life and yet are struggling, it is probably best if you find yourself some new friends. There is a story in the Old Testament that shows us what it means to have good friends around you. In 1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4 (ESV) it reads, “…The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”
Being the firstborn son of Saul, Jonathan would have been accepted as the heir, and yet he gave everything to David, from his robes and armor to his sword and bow. These items were a symbol of strength and stature, and to give those meant great respect and brotherhood. But more than that, Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. These are the true friends that I speak of. Integrity will only help us grow with friends like this.
The entire definition of integrity ends with how integrity affects the acceptance of yourself. Throughout the Bible, we see the phrase of loving something or someone as ourselves. But how much is loving ourselves? For every person, that is different. Some people have no issue with accepting themselves and loving themselves. For others, not so much. An actually common issue that people have these days is insecurity with themselves.
We look at ourselves in the mirror and have a lack of confidence at what we see. Or we reflect on how we act around certain people and we hate ourselves for what we see. But if I honestly have to ask, why should we? We were each created in God’s own image for a specific reason. Yeah, we might not look like so-and-so, but that doesn’t make us any less beautiful. Sure, we might not be as popular as fill-in-the-blank, but God has a plan for you.
When we make choices based on integrity, our own view on ourselves changes. We stop worrying about all these small and insignificant little things and actually begin to look at the bigger picture. That fundamental acceptance of ourselves begins to be affected and our relationships with both family and friends change.
I know this was another long post, but I want to sincerely thank you for reading. It means a lot when I see people reading what I have to say, and I hope that you take it to heart as it is my biggest desire for you to walk away striving to become like Christ. There is always room for improvement and you should always try to do so.
May we all do the right thing according to the Scriptures, and spiritually according to the Spirit. May we all be truthful in both word and works. May our relationships with our family and friends grow to be healthier. May the fundamental acceptance of ourselves change for the better as we make choices based on integrity. May we go out into this world with the values loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, and integrity on our conscious minds.