He was only a young man when bands of foreign invaders pummeled through the walls of his city, destroyed his homeland, and carted him and thousands of others to a foreign land. Suddenly, he was introduced to food he’d never tasted. None of the foods he was accustomed to eating were available. He couldn’t understand the language either. He saw their lips moving…and he saw the whips stripe across the backs of those who didn’t understand anything their captors said. No one here worshipped his God, yet they replaced him with many others. Immoral activities raged. One thing he resolved to do, however. He wouldn’t defile himself by accepting his captor’s customs.
When Daniel made up his mind to be different, he lived out the meaning of integrity. The psalmist declared he would also. “But I am not like that; I live with integrity. So redeem me and show me mercy.” (Psalm 26:11 NLT)
According to the Miriam Webster dictionary, integrity is a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” Integrity, however, isn’t flawlessness. If it was, neither I nor anyone else could have it. Integrity has more to do with the direction of my heart. Is it pulling me toward God and a righteous lifestyle or in the opposite direction? David was guilty of immorality, murder, and lying, but his gut level desire was to please God. Integrity is measured by the average of our lifestyle.
Why I attempt to live with integrity is also important. Like Daniel of old who refused the food of his foreign captors because it was forbidden by God, my actions must flow from this same desire. My integrity is not for show but for obedience, fulfillment, and peace.
Living with integrity will always create the possibility of being misunderstood and criticized. The Bible and Christian history are full of personal examples. This may lead to periods of feeling alone…like I’m out of sync with the majority. And I will be…but so was Jesus.
Make your commitment to live with integrity today.
Prayer: Give us Your Holy Spirit’s power, O God, to adhere daily to Your standards and principles.