This week I’ve been confronted with the nature of integrity. First, there was the matter of our apartment: the owner of the condo we rent has decided to sell and on Tuesday morning photographers were coming to take pictures of the unit. It was requested of us that we “tidy up” and clear the horizontal surfaces so that the images they took would be attractive for the open house the realtor is hosting this weekend. The pictures are intended to convey the warmth of the wood accents, the beauty of the built-ins and the roominess of the open floor plan. But the pictures will never tell the whole story: they won’t reveal the birds nesting in the wall under the window sill, the electrical overload that occurs if you run an air conditioner and watch TV at the same time or the scalding shower any time a toilet in our condo (or the one beneath us) is flushed. The visible does not fully represent the actual.
Tuesday evening I was able to participate in a men’s Bible study which discussed the topic of biblical integrity. The study began with the following words:
We men talk a good line; but we love to fudge a little with the truth, often projecting an image of ourselves that is something other than reality. We say we have it together…but do we really? – Kenny Luck, Standing Firm Against Temptation; p. 43
In the morning I was assisting Jeanine with the final touches of making the outward appearance of the house presentable (and complaining about it) and in the evening I was addressing the temptation of making the outward appearance of my life presentable (and chafing under it). In a perfect world, the inward core and the outward appearance are consistent, whether it is our condo or our character.
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25 (NIV)
Integrity comes from knowing the truth and fully expressing it, in word and in deed. Integrity comes from knowing our weaknesses and living in such a way that they are evident, whether it be a rodent problem behind the kitchen sink or a proclivity toward angry outbursts. Integrity comes from knowing our strengths and living in such a way that they, too are evident, whether it be an artistic flair in the cabinetry or a heart for the unloved. Integrity comes from knowing, and acknowledging in our lifestyle, the fullness of reality – the good, the bad and everything in between. Integrity means that we are what we represent, not more and never less.
So, in light of the events of Tuesday, we are entering into another season of uncertainty – we may be moving and we definitely will be getting a new landlord. I only pray that wherever we live, I will live with integrity – knowing the truth (about me, about God and about life) and fully expressing that truth, inside and out.