Integrity vs. Character

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Integrity is a good thing. The Promise Keepers movement over the years can be credited for challenging a generation of men to pursue integrity in the way they live. That has had a profound effect on our culture. The problem is that integrity is not the goal, character is. Someone who has integrity does not necessarily have character. On the other hand, a person of character will always have integrity. It is important to understand the difference between the two because if we don't, we get things backwards.

Integrity has to do with "what or how I do things." Integrity literally means to have excellence in what or how you do things. There are millions of people all over the world who are excellent in what they do and even do good things. But that has nothing to do with character. Character has to do with "who I am". Character literally means holiness. A person of character is a person who not only lives right in front of other people, but lives right when no one else is looking. Integrity focuses on the "outward appearance". It believes that what I do determines who I am. This is nothing short of faith based on works. Character focuses on the inward condition of the heart. It believes that who I am determines how I do things. This is faith based on grace.

Are you beginning to see the difference? I am not advocating that we stop pursuing integrity. I am merely pointing out that if we pursue character, then integrity will be a natural byproduct of the way we live. Simply stated, If I am a man of character then I will naturally be a man of integrity. I tried for so many years to do all the right things for God hoping that would make me acceptable to Him. Then I discovered that God isn't interested in the work of my hands. He just wants my heart! That changed everything. 1 Samuel 15:22 tell us that to obey is better than sacrifice. Obedience has to do with character and sacrifice has to do with integrity. You see, without obedience, sacrifice is meaningless. I have learned the same thing about my marriage. Without real relationship, all the flowers and jewelry are meaningless to my wife. She would prefer that she have my heart and affection rather than my gifts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is very powerful! It's so important to realize that we are to do the good works we were predestined to walk in BECAUSE of what Christ has already accomplished in us and for us and not to get His approval. The Cross alone is our approval before the Father. Our character is fashioned out of what His obedient sacrifice did for us. Thanks for illuminating the differences because I didn't see them until now!

Elijah David

 
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