The Secret Self
Who are you when no one’s looking? God doesn’t expect you to never make a mistake, but He calls you to be your true, authentic self—and that means committing to a lifestyle of integrity.
by Charles F. Stanley
It doesn’t take much to realize honesty isn’t valued in our society today. Sure, people talk about the need for transparency in government and business. But in everyday life, a great number of folks still live as though deception is a necessary part of being human.
Think about your own experience: how often have you justified stretching the truth for any number of reasons? Perhaps you wanted to avoid the awkwardness of giving your honest feedback to a friend or colleague. Or maybe you tried to cover up a bad decision. Friends, this isn’t how God wants us to live. He’s given us a better way.
The apostle John wrote, “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Keeping our feet on this lit path means living honestly in every aspect of life.
From the way we deal with relationship conflicts to how we handle job responsibilities, what we do—and how we do it—matters to God. Though we may find it possible to deceive the people in our lives, God is never fooled. He sees the reality of our hearts with the utmost clarity.
Take a moment to survey all the blessings the Father has given you—everything you’re working so hard to build and protect. A lack of integrity so often brings ruin to these things, and if it doesn’t catch up with you on this side of heaven, you’ll have to face the Lord in the life to come and answer for your decisions.
So who are you? Are you a person of integrity? When the doors close and no one else is around, are you the same person you present to others? You can’t afford to ignore these questions. There’s simply too much at stake.
What does integrity look like?
In God’s eyes, honest living is a major issue. He wants believers to be characterized by integrity in their relationships, finances, work, and every other area of life. Therefore, we need to understand what it means to have this character quality. In Psalm 15, David gives a concise picture of a person of integrity and describes the benefits of letting honesty permeate our lives.
First of all, integrity is essential for a close relationship with the Lord (Psalm 15:1-2). Since dishonesty and duplicity create a barrier in our fellowship with God, only those with an honest heart and upright behavior can draw near to Him and experience the closeness He wants with us.
Integrity is displayed by our actions, but it begins in the heart (Psalm 15:2). David describes it as a lifestyle of walking in truth and doing what’s right. But integrity isn’t just about what we do; it’s about our heart. Before we can be honest and upright externally, we must be authentic internally.
Integrity influences how we relate to others (Psalm 15:3-5). Christians should be known as good neighbors and trustworthy friends who don’t gossip, spread slander, hold grudges, or seek revenge. To the best of our ability, we are to keep our promises, treat others fairly, and not take advantage of anyone. We should also be discriminating in our associations, knowing that sinful lifestyles drag us down. Instead, we need friends who know and honor the Lord.
Integrity gives stability in life (Psalm 15:5). When we live honestly, we have no fear of “being found out,” because we’re authentic inside and out—no duplicity, no covering up. Even if we suffer for telling the truth, we will not be shaken, because we’re standing on the solid ground of obedience to God.
Does your life resemble the person in Psalm 15? Although God doesn’t expect you to do everything perfectly, He does want you to desire and strive to become who He designed you to be—a person of integrity.
Why do we give up our integrity?
Perhaps the simplest answer is that we lack trust in God. Scripture gives us a clear idea of how we should live, but when we focus on our fears and selfish desires, we may be tempted to use deception to get what we want or avoid what we don’t want.
Satan is always looking for ways to keep us from seeing deceit in our lives. He’s quick to supply excuses: It won’t hurt anyone. No one will ever know. Nobody’s perfect. However, if we really want integrity, we must be willing to examine our lives to see if any subtle forms of deception are hidden there.
The time to make decisions about whether you will lie or tell the truth is not in the moment of temptation. Using God’s Word as your guide, determine beforehand how you want to relate to others, do your work, and handle finances. Then when situations arise that tempt you to lie, you’ll be firmly rooted in your convictions.
Types of deception
Insinuations: Gossip and slander often begin with indirect comments about another person, which give an impression of wrongdoing.
False impressions: When we want to manipulate a situation in order to present ourselves in a good light, we either embellish the truth or omit part of it to shape the other person’s perception.
White lies: Our culture puts lies on a sliding scale. When they seem unimportant and carry no serious repercussions, we call them “little white lies.” However, what we’re really trying to do is bring God’s standard down to our comfort level. But the Lord doesn’t assign colors because all lies are equal in His view.
Partial truth: When we tell the truth but omit some integral facts in order to gain an advantage or protect ourselves, it’s still deception. For example, if you are trying to sell your car, but you fail to mention it has a bad carburetor, you have deceived the buyer. Sure, wasn’t an outright lie, but withholding that vital information could harm the other person and benefit you.
Integrity must be sought and maintained.
The only way to walk in integrity is to follow Christ instead of going your own way. Lies and manipulation may seem like the quickest route to getting what you want, but they lead only to more trouble. The one way to guarantee a good outcome is to obey the Lord and trust Him to work it all out. Even if honesty causes loss or hurt at the moment, it will result in the priceless character trait of integrity.
After reading this article, did you sense the Holy Spirit revealing any hidden deception in your life? If so, the first step in weeding it out is admitting that it is sin. God wants you to deal with it and change course.
His motive is not to condemn but to bring you into the blessings of obedience. After confessing the sin of deception, take the necessary steps to insure that you stay on the path of integrity.
In the end, when you choose to live without integrity, you’re deceiving only yourself. Someday all that is in darkness will be exposed (1 Cor. 4:5). With so much at stake, isn’t it time to begin making the pursuit of integrity a top priority? Your future depends upon it.
Do you know God?
If you want to live a more authetic life, one marked by integrity, start with getting to know more about Jesus here.