Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than the one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1 NKJV)
And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them… (Jeremiah 45:5 NKJV)
I have known many men and women to seek wealth, to seek great things for themselves, even if they have to lie and be dishonest to achieve them. “The end justifies the means” is the false credo of those who lack integrity. God warns us that any who seek to live this way will come to ruin.
It does not mean that we will not gain something worldly in the process, but the tragedy of such “gains” is that whatever we achieve dishonestly carries with it a personal spiritual and moral loss that is greater in the loss column. Scottish pastor George MacDonald (1824-1905) said, “In whatever a man does without God, he must fail miserably – or succeed even more miserably.”
We are certainly saved by grace and by grace alone, through our faith, but there is something gained when we stand in our integrity and we know that we have done the right thing and done it in the right way. Honesty and integrity do not mean rudeness, at least not necessarily. Some people imagine that they have the right to say all kinds of things to others, simply because these are their “honest” opinions. But the man of true integrity takes into account his own doubts, his own questions, and holds others in consideration.
Honest people are first honest with themselves. They are introspective in terms of their failures and freely admit these to God. They are also honest about the provision of God’s grace that comes through Christ. They honestly repent and honestly believe they are forgiven. They differentiate between convictions and opinions, between foundational truths – things that are immovable – and areas of life where honest men may have differences of opinion.
They do what Davy Crockett said to do, “First be sure you are right, then go ahead.” But they do it in a humility that leaves open the possibility of being mistaken on some minor points. At the end of the day they trust in God and work for His glory. They guard their hearts and their minds from damage and they respect the harm that sin and temptation can do to their soul.
Christ said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 10:26). “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).