Integrity is the ability to remain unimpaired morally, spiritually, and rationally through a firm adherence to biblical values. Solomon said that integrity is our moral GPS guidance system: “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Prov 10:9). The Apostle Paul gave an excellent illustration of how biblical integrity works. In a passage found in 2 Cor 4:7-12, he starts with calling all of us just ordinary clay pots. Nothing to brag about— only regular containers. However, God chose to place an incredible treasure in these common pots—the Gospel. Then Paul demonstrates how we are tested by life’s difficult trials and how by God’s grace we can stand firm. Paul said that he sometimes felt pressured on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not abandoned, and knocked down but not knocked out. That is unrelenting integrity. In standing firm as Paul did, we reveal Jesus to the world.
As clay pots, we are fragile, our time on this earth is short, and we have many weaknesses, but still, God chooses to place in us his surpassing great treasure. That treasure is powerful because it is the transforming gospel of the Lord. Having this treasure does not make us great; it only displays our weaknesses and his great power at work in us. When we become men and women of integrity and learn that we will be pressured from within and without, we don’t have to be crushed. We learn that no matter how difficult life becomes, we do not need to despair. Even though we are at times persecuted, and we will be, we know we will not be abandoned. Also, though life deals us some powerful blows that knock us down—they never knock us out, and we get back up.
When we live this way, our integrity reveals Jesus to the world. That incredible treasure becomes attractive to people who see us live. Every Christian who lives with integrity is giving the world a testimony of God’s transforming power. They can see what Jesus has done in our lives, and that gives them hope that he will do the same for them.
The fact that many trials pressure us but never crush us is a display of our integrity. The fact that we are perplexed but not in despair is a display of our integrity. No matter how confused we get, when we do not despair, it is a display of integrity and trust in God. We may feel the way Jesus did on the cross, that we are forsaken because the persecution is so real, but we know that God will never abandon us. We can be confident of God’s abiding presence regardless of how we feel. Even the most potent blows don’t have to knock us out of the fight. The fact that we get back up is integrity on display. For Paul, the whole point of life was that Jesus would be revealed. He lived for those opportunities that people would see Jesus in his life. Is this not the life we all want as believers?