Being Integral, Having Integrity

Reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live wholeheartedly for God, particularly considering the Hebrew word tamim.

Integrity points to the core of what it means to be integral, to be whole-hearted. It is being honest and truthful in word and action and thought. It refers to consistency in all areas and at all times.

NT Wright describes this as being the core of John’s Gospel:

In his letters, John expresses delight at believers who are ‘walking in the truth’: those who behave with an integrity that reflects the gospel. For him, such people show their love for God by obeying him. Obedience involves not just understanding correct doctrine and proper outward behavior, but also loving fellow believers.

And Tim Keller talks about prayer as being the key to discovering integrity:

If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be a dark, scary room. We will not know what to do with solitude. We will be deeply uncomfortable with self-examination, and we will have an increasingly short attention span for any kind of reflection. Even more seriously, our lives will lack integrity. Outwardly, we will need to project confidence, spiritual and emotional health and wholeness, while inwardly we may be filled with self-doubts, anxieties, self-pity, and old grudges. Yet we won’t know how to go into the inner rooms of the heart, see clearly what is there, and deal with it.  In short, without putting a priority on the inner life, we turn ourselves into hypocrites.

Prayer is the key to our relationship with God, just as speaking and listening are the key to all our other significant relationships. Through prayer and God’s Word we open ourselves up to being shaped by the Spirit, to learn what it means to be integral again.

This is what has been enabled for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through his sacrifice, he has opened up the way for us to live as a living sacrifice, for all the different areas of our lives to be fused together.

However, for many of us it will take intentional acts, such as prayer and other spiritual disciplines, to be shaped in the image of Christ.

As we rediscover our identity in Christ, we will be able to live wholly for God, being people of integrity, consistent in thought and word and deed.

Think it Through
Are you challenged by the concept of having integrity?
Do you pray honestly with God about being integral, and showing integrity?
What Does the Bible Say?
Integrity is the concept that most captures the idea of living wholly for God, of being a living sacrifice. Integrity is also in the semantic range of tamim, as it is used in Amos 5:10 to describe a society which has fallen away from God:

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
    and detest the one who tells the truth [tamim].

We are called, as Christians to uphold justice, and to always tell the truth.
Dear Lord,
Having integrity is such a high standard.
We know we fail time and again.
Forgive us, Lord.
We are not integral:
Our inner world frequently does not match our outer world.
Or our outer world does not match our inner world.
Forgive us, Lord.
Help us to have integrity, be integral, and be whole-hearted for you.

Kara Martin is the author of Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, and Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work. She is also a lecturer with Mary Andrews College. Kara has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organisations, and as a consultant. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, and helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is currently conducting research on how to effectively equip workplace Christians to integrate their faith and work.

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