Our lives and our innermost thoughts are increasingly on public display. Social media is constantly inviting us to share our feelings through shares, likes, comments, and emojis—each instance adding another stroke to our digital self-portrait. You would think that the ancient text of the Bible wouldn’t know what to say about that. But consider this Tweet worthy Proverb, “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.” (Proverbs 10:9, NLT) The proverb’s wisdom was always true, but even more so today in the light of our social media-connected lives.
What does it mean to have integrity? This verse from Proverbs helps define the word by providing us with a comparison – the crooked path. The idea here is something that is twisted out of shape or misdirected. It is a path that promises we’re going to Chicago but is really taking us to Omaha. Essentially, integrity means keeping our promises and convictions without ulterior motives or hidden purposes. I like to explain that integrity means we’re whole, the same on the inside as we are on the outside. What you see is what you get.
For many, walking in the openness of integrity seems like a dangerous path. People may not like us or our motives. Others may use that information for evil attempts at control or manipulation. Those are the risks. But on the other side of the ledger is a growing reputation for trustworthiness and honesty. Who would you rather do business with or have as a friend? Someone with integrity or someone that hides their real motives?
Walking with integrity means that we also need to be honest with ourselves and confront the darkness that lies within instead of trying to hide it. Examining our own true motives is rarely fun, but integrity requires it.
We must also apply grace here; none of us have perfect integrity. We may even have hidden agendas and biases that we can’t see in ourselves, even as we see them in others. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in and shines the light of God’s Word in our hearts. In fact, the admission that we stumble in many ways is the first step on the pathway of integrity.
Allow me to circle back. The digital social-media portrait of a person of integrity will mirror who they really are. The digital social-media portrait of the person without integrity will present a false and distorted picture. Some find safety in that false front, but real and long-lasting safety comes from striving to live a life of integrity in the light of Jesus Christ.
The choice is yours. “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.”