The word integrity derives from the word integer, a mathematical term for a whole number as opposed to a fraction. So when you walk in integrity, that means you tell the whole truth and not just a fraction of it. That’s why we take an oath in court to tell ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.
Why do we slant the truth, embellish it, and tell half-truths?
Sometimes it’s for financial gain, other times it’s for social advantage. Sometimes it’s to hide our actions, other times it’s to avail ourselves of certain benefits. Jacob, whose name meant ‘trickster’, conspired with his mother and deceived his father into giving him the birthright of the firstborn – twice as much of their father’s inheritance which rightfully belonged to his older brother Esau. And Jacob paid dearly for it. He spent the next fourteen years as a fugitive working for his father-in-law, who was an even bigger and better cheat than Jacob.
Finally, in despair, Jacob had an encounter with God and heard these words: ‘I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (Genesis 28:15 NIV 2011 Edition).
That day Jacob’s value system changed, and the taker became a giver. He told God, ‘Of all that you give me I will give you a tenth’ (v. 22 NIV 2011 Edition). And after that God blessed him beyond his wildest dreams. He returned home after many years with a beautiful family, great riches, and a new name: Israel. The truth is, integrity pays dividends every time.
Because God guarantees it.
‘The integrity of the upright guides them.’ Proverbs 11:3 NIV (2011 Edition)