The advantage of integrity

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Groucho Marx once said: “These are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others.” This is particularly relevant in the current slim majority/minority situation in the Australian Parliament, where it appears politicians of all persuasions will latch onto anything to give them a perceived advantage with the electorate, even if it contradicts things they’ve previously said. 

Yet in spite of our cynicism, we still yearn for integrity—not only from our leaders but also those around us. . .

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with who stands for what on any given day. And it’s not just in Australia—leaders around the world seem to act like weather vanes, turning back and forth in the wind, rather than behaving like visionaries with coherent plans for the future. 

Given how sceptical we’ve become, I’m surprised that so many political observers have engaged in the confected expressions of “moral” outrage about political fibs and flip-flops. For years, we’ve rated politicians on the lower end of the scale when it comes to those whom we can trust. And this factoid is often reported in the media by journalists, who we also apparently find wanting. 

Yet in spite of our cynicism, we still yearn for integrity—not only from our leaders but also those around us, the people we have relationships with and those we work with. Hopefully, we also look for integrity from and in ourselves. As a concept, integrity means we are consistent in our actions, words and values (basically it’s the opposite of hypocrisy). Proverbs 11:3 tells us that honesty and integrity act as a guide for good people. Integrity isn’t something that magically appears in everyone’s life, but results from being disciplined enough to pursue it—even when it’s inconvenient.

Although we do hope and work for integrity, we as Christians know that sin in the world means that there isn’t a single one of us who isn’t fallible (see Romans 3:23). However, as we’re told in Romans 12:2, we should be transformed by Christ instead of conformed to this world. The rest of Romans 12—and in fact the rest of the Bible—has many excellent pointers for becoming people of integrity. Our words and actions reflect who we are to others. Let’s surrender to Christ and let Him make us women and men of integrity.

Adele Nash is editor of NorthPoint magazine.