So, what's the difference between integrity and honesty?

Most of us think of honesty as not lying. Telling the truth, and not covering up. Even being painfully honest.

Some of us even take honesty to the extreme of letting others know just what we think. Like telling a woman that a dress doesn't suit her.

Does the dress really not suit, or is it just our opinion or preference? How do we esteem someone above ourselves if there's no room for their choices?

Integrity gives space

Integrity uses tact rather than bluntness, offering choices. You will find some who believe they are being honest, who say, "My way, or the highway." Such ultimatums are legalistic; they don't allow for learning and growth. They don't give the person the benefit of the doubt. And as we will see, they really aren't the essence of integrity.

Integrity can mean swearing to your own hurt, and then not backing down when it does cost you. And choosing when it is important to let people know what you think and when to keep your peace.

Integrity is putting honesty in the grip of love for others. Corrie ten Boom said that one retarded person was just as valuable to God as a four-star general. Integrity values a person for what they are, not for what they can produce or whether they meet our standards.

Integrity means win-win

Integrity says that you do what is best for the overall common good, and everybody wins. If I am a person of integrity, I don't put someone else down just so that I look good. Rather, I look for and appreciate the value of their effort, even when it doesn't meet my `standards.'

Now, we know that the world is not always fair. Most people want to win for themselves. They don't care if the other person ever wins, so they don't play a win-win game.

You must choose whether or not you will always be so insistent that your side wins that no one else can gain. Will you play for the greatest common good? It is not always an easy, straight-forward choice!

Indeed, for integrity to work, we need the wisdom of Solomon. We need to know when to turn the other the other cheek and let others make choices for themseves. We need a life-spanning commitment to integrity in our careers, our personal lives and our marriages. We need to be `in the grip of' integrity.

"Oh, but he/she might win more than me!" you say. Unfortunately, we look at things that way, because at heart we are selfish. Integrity is overcoming our own selfishness to put the other person first.

Integrity: In the grip of LOVE

We say that integrity is honesty in the grip of love, because we must be truly loving and truly humble in our heart for integrity to bear fruit. Integrity is a fruit of the spirit that is within us. It is a result of what we truly want in our lives.

That is why it is LOVE spelled with a capital L. Integrity is one of the earmarks of the kingdom of God. As such, it comes from God, who describes Himself as Love. It is not wishy-washy, sentimental drivel, but our hearts being so gripped by God that we are humble before Him. We are humble to the point that we are always ready to learn. We are willing to admit our mistakes and start again.

...not for the faint of heart

Integrity means sometimes we will tremble before truth when we realize we are wrong. We will come to the point where we stop making excuses and actually listen to criticism, and then we will take that criticism before God and let Him tell us whether we were right or wrong.

Integrity is not for the faint of heart. That is not to say integrity means being super-spiritual. On the contrary, integrity means admittimg weakness. It means sticking up for what is right, while owning the fact that we might be wrong.

Integrity is God at work in us!

So here's to integrity!

copyright, Rick Galbraith, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: May, 1998, 2001.