What does the Bible say about integrity?
The wisest man in the world advised his son, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
When Solomon said this, he knew that almost everyone admires people with integrity because they feel they can trust that person. They know someone who has integrity is honest and honorable. Even when they disagree with that person’s values, they respect them for staying true to their beliefs in a kind and considerate way. Most people prefer to work with people of integrity because they don’t have to worry about being cheated or lied to.
If we have integrity, we’re more likely to be successful in our personal and professional lives. People notice when we do the right thing, even when no one is watching. People know that we’re sincere, authentic, and pure. They know we have a solid moral compass.
Let’s explore what the Bible says about integrity, why it’s essential, and how we can cultivate it.
Christian quotes about integrity
“I don’t always feel his presence, but God’s promises do not depend on my feelings; they rest upon His integrity.” R.C. Sproul
“Integrity is built by defeating the temptation to be dishonest; humility grows when we refuse to be prideful; and endurance develops every time you reject the temptation to give up.”
Integrity means that we are trustworthy and dependable, and our character is above reproach. Billy Graham
Integrity characterizes the entire person, not just part of him. He is righteous and honest through and through. He is not only that inside, but also in outer action. – R. Kent Hughes
What is the meaning of integrity in the Bible?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word usually translated as integrity is tome or toommaw. It carries the idea of being blameless, honest, upright, incorruptible, complete, and sound.
In the New Testament, the Greek word sometimes translated as integrity is aphtharsia, meaning incorruptible, pure, perpetual, and sincere. (Titus 2:7)
Another Greek word occasionally translated as integrity is aléthés, which means true, truthful, worthy of credit, and authentic. (Matthew 22:16, John 3:33, John 8:14)
Yet another Greek word translated as integrity is spoudé, which has the idea of diligence or earnestness. As the Discovery Bible says, it is “quickly obeying what the Lord reveals is His priority. This elevates the better over the good – the more important over the important – and does so with earnest swiftness (intensity).”[i] (Romans 12:8, 11, 2 Corinthians 7:11-12)
1. Titus 2:7 (ESV) “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.”
2. Psalm 26:1 (NIV) “Of David. Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD and have not faltered.”
3. Psalm 41:12 “In my integrity You uphold me and set me in Your presence forever.”
4. Proverbs 19:1 “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”
5. Acts 13:22 (NASB) “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.”
6. Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
7. Matthew 22:16 “They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.”
How to walk in integrity?
Walking in integrity begins with reading God’s Word and doing what it says to do. It also means studying the life of Jesus and other Biblical people recognized as being truthful and sincere. What did they do when confronted with challenges? How did they treat other people?
We can cultivate integrity in our lives by being careful to keep promises. If we make a commitment, we should follow through, even if it’s inconvenient.
We need to treat everyone with respect and dignity, especially those who are looked down on, such as disabled or disadvantaged people. Integrity involves speaking up for abused, oppressed, or bullied people.
We cultivate integrity when God’s Word is the foundation of our moral compass, and we refuse to engage in activities that go against it. We become strong in integrity when we consistently take matters to God in prayer, asking for His divine wisdom in dealing with situations.
We cultivate integrity when we quickly recognize and repent of sin and apologize to anyone we have hurt, making things right as far as is in our power.
8. Psalm 26:1 “Vindicate me, O LORD! For I have walked with integrity; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.”
9. Proverbs 13:6 “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness undermines the sinner.”
10. Proverbs 19:1 “Better a poor man who walks with integrity than a fool whose lips are perverse.”
11. Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
12. Proverbs 28:6 (ESV) “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
13. Joshua 23:6 “Be very strong, then, so that you can keep and obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, not turning aside from it to the right or to the left.”
14. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
15. Proverbs 3:3 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
16. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
17. Ephesians 4:24 “and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
18. Ephesians 5:10 “Test and prove what pleases the Lord.”
19. Psalm 119:9-10 “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”
20. Joshua 1:7-9 New International Version 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
What are the characteristics of integrity?
The character of a person who walks with integrity is a blameless and pure life. This person is honest, sincere, and authentic in what he or she says and does. They have an upright lifestyle that people notice and talk about positively. They aren’t “holier than thou” but are perpetually ethical, honorable, compassionate, fair, and respectful. Their speech and actions are always appropriate for the situation.
A person of integrity isn’t corrupted by the temptations of money or success or by what the people around him are doing. This person is earnest and diligent in everything they do, especially in following God’s priorities. They are complete and sound in character, and their actions are consistent with their principles. A person of integrity exercises self-discipline and takes responsibility for mistakes.
21. 1 Kings 9:4 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws.”
22. Proverbs 13:6 “Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”
23. Psalm 15:2 (NKJV) “He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart.”
24. Psalm 101:3 “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
25. Ephesians 5:15 (NIV) “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.”
26. Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, who has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.”
27. Psalm 101:6 “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me.”
28. Proverbs 11:3 (NLT) “Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people.”
Benefits of integrity in the Bible
As already mentioned in Proverbs 10:9, the person who walks in integrity walks securely. This means he or she is in a position of safety and confidence. Why does integrity keep us safe? Well, just read the recent headlines about what happens when politicians who lack integrity are found out. It’s embarrassing and can ruin a person’s career. Even regular people are more secure in their relationships, marriages, and careers when they walk in integrity because they are trustworthy and respectful.
Proverbs 11:3 tells us that integrity guides us. “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the treacherous will destroy them.” How does integrity guide us? If we have a decision to make, we can ask ourselves, “What is the right thing to do, the honest thing to do?” If we are consistently living ethically, based on Biblical teaching, the right thing to do is usually obvious. God gives wisdom and shields the person walking in integrity: “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity” (Proverbs 2:7).
Our integrity blesses our children. “The righteous man walks with integrity; blessed are his children after him” (Proverbs 20:7). When we live in integrity, we provide our children with stability and security. We set an excellent example for our children to follow so when they grow up, their lives of integrity will bring rewards.
29. Proverbs 11:3 (NKJV) “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the treacherous will destroy them.”
30. Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.”
31. Proverbs 2:7 “He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.”
32. Psalm 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.”
33. Proverbs 10:9 (NLT) “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.”
34. Psalm 25:21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.”
35. Psalm 26:11 (NASB) “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me, and be gracious to me.”
36. Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
37. Psalm 41:12 (NIV) “Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”
38. Proverbs 2:6-8 “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.”
39. Psalm 34:15 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.”
The integrity of God’s Word
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6)
God is our paramount example of integrity. He is unchanging, always just, always true, and utterly good. That’s why His Word is a light to our paths. That’s why the psalmist could say, “You are good, and You do good; teach me Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68)
We can have complete confidence in God’s Word, the Bible. God’s Word is true and powerful. As we read and meditate on God’s Word, it changes our perceptions of life, our attitudes, our morality, and our inner spiritual being. The integrity of God’s Word makes us people of integrity.
40. Psalm 18:30 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”
41. 2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”
42. Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart; the commandments of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
43. Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
44. Psalm 12:6 (KJV) “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
45. Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the LORD is upright, and all His work is trustworthy.”
46. Proverbs 2:7 “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.”
47. Psalm 119:68 “You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.”
48. Psalm 119:14 “I rejoice in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches.”
49. Psalm 119:90 “Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures.”
50. Psalm 119:128 “Therefore I admire all Your precepts and hate every false way.”
Lack of integrity in the Bible
“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than a person who is perverse in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)
The opposite of integrity is perverse speech and foolishness. What is perverse speech? It’s twisted speech. Lying is perverse speech, and so are swear words. Another example of twisted speech is saying that wrong things are right and good is evil.
For example, the Bible says that lesbianism and homosexuality are degrading, unnatural passions, and contrary to nature. It’s the end result of not honoring and thanking God and exchanging the truth of God for falsehood (Romans 1:21-27). Suppose a person dares to speak out against this sin. In that case, our woke society will screech that they are dangerous, homophobic, and intolerant.
For example, a young police officer was recently placed on administrative leave and threatened with termination because he posted about God’s design for marriage on his private Facebook page. They said he was forbidden to post a quote or interpretation of scripture that might be offensive to someone, somewhere.[ii] Our woke society is exchanging the truth of God for falsehood. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
Proverbs 28:6 is a similar verse: “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than a person who is crooked, though he is rich.”
What does it mean by “crooked” here? It’s actually the same word translated as “perverse” in Proverbs 19:1. In that case, it was talking about speech. Here, it seems to imply business dealings or other paths to wealth. It’s not a sin to be wealthy, but there are sinful ways to get wealth, such as taking advantage of others, shady dealings, or outright illegal activities. The Bible says it’s better to be poor than to get rich in “crooked” ways.
51. Proverbs 19:1 “Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.”
52. Proverbs 4:24 “Put away deception from your mouth; keep your lips from perverse speech.”
53. Proverbs 28:6 “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than he who is crooked though he be rich.”
54. Proverbs 14:2 “He who walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but the one who is devious in his ways despises Him.”
55. Psalm 7:8 (ESV) “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.”
56. 1 Chronicles 29:17 (NIV) “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”
What does the Bible say about integrity in business?
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23)
Our work environment is a place to be a witness for Christ. Our actions can speak louder than words. If we’re lazy or constantly wasting time on the job, that’s a lack of integrity that will undermine our credibility when we try to share our faith. If we’re hardworking and diligent, that demonstrates the type of character that honors Christ.
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)
Back in the days when this verse was written, the Mesopotamians used shekels, which weren’t coins, just a lump of silver or gold of a certain weight. Sometimes, people tried to pass off “shekels” that weren’t the correct weight. Sometimes they used fraudulent scales to weigh the shekels or the product they were selling.
In today’s business world, we don’t weigh money or other things, except maybe for grocers selling bananas or grapes. But unfortunately, some business owners use shady practices such as a “bait and switch” approach. For instance, a roofer might have a customer sign a contract with a set price, and then after the old roof is torn off, tell the client they need different supplies, which will cost thousands of dollars more. Or an auto dealership might advertise financing with a 0% interest rate, for which hardly anyone would qualify.
In the competitive business world, companies might be tempted to profit by cutting corners or using deception to get people’s business. You might also find yourself in a situation where your company asks you to do something unethical.
The bottom line is that we can do business with integrity, to the Lord’s delight, or we can engage in questionable practices and even deceit, which are detestable in God’s eyes. Sticking to integrity and ethical business practices will pay off in the long run. Your clients will notice, and you’ll get more repeat business. And God will bless your business if you walk with integrity.
57. Proverbs 11:1 (KJV) “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.”
58. Leviticus 19:35 “You must not use dishonest measures of length, weight, or volume.”
59. Leviticus 19:36 “You shall maintain honest scales and weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
60. Proverbs 11:3 (ESV) “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”
61. Proverbs 16:11-13 “Honest balances and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are His concern. 12 Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are a king’s delight, and he loves one who speaks honestly.”
62. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
63. Proverbs 10:4 “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
64. Leviticus 19:13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.”
65. Proverbs 16:8 (NKJV) “Better is a little with righteousness, Than vast revenues without justice.”
66. Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Examples of integrity in the Bible
- Job had so much integrity that God bragged about him to Satan. God said that Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil (Job 1:1. 9). Satan replied that Job only had integrity because God blessed and protected him. Satan said if Job lost everything, he would curse God. God allowed Satan to test Job, and he lost all his livestock, and then his children all died when a wind blew down the house they were in.
But Job’s response was, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) After Satan afflicted Job with painful boils, his wife asked, “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!” But in all this, Job did not sin. He said, “It still brings me comfort, and joy through unrelenting pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10). “I will cling to my righteousness and never let it go” (Job 27:6).
Job did plead his case to God. “I desire to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God” (Job 13:3), and “Let God weigh me with honest scales, that He may know my integrity” (Job 31:6).
At the end of the day, Job was vindicated. God scolded his friends who questioned Job’s integrity (and God’s integrity). He made them sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams and have Job intercede for them (Job 42:7-9). God restored all of Job’s former possessions – He doubled them, and Job had ten more children. God restored Job’s health, and he lived 140 years after all this happened (Job 42:10-17).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been taken as prisoners from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon when they were teenagers. Nebuchadnezzar had them trained in the Babylonian language and literature to enter the king’s service. At the suggestion of their friend Daniel, they decided not to eat the wine and meat from the king’s table (probably because it had been offered to idols). God honored these four young men because of their integrity and raised them to high positions in the Babylonian government (Daniel 1).
Sometime later, King Nebuchadnezzar erected an enormous golden statue and commanded his government leaders to fall down and worship the idol. But Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego remained standing. Furious, Nebuchadnezzar demanded they bow or be thrown into the fiery furnace. But they replied, “God is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
In a rage, Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into the furnace. The heat of the fire killed the men who threw them in. But then Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking around in the fire, unburnt and unharmed, and with a fourth Person who looked like “a son of God.”
The integrity of these three men was a mighty testimony to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king said in wonder, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God . . . for there is no other god who can deliver in this way” (Daniel 3:28-29).
- Nathanael’s friend Philip introduced him to Jesus, and when Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47)
The word “guile” means deceit, betrayal, and exploitative behaviors. When Jesus saw Nathanael, He saw a man of integrity. Nathanael was probably the disciple Bartholomew, but aside from this one encounter, the Bible doesn’t tell us anything more about what Nathanael (or Bartholomew) did or said. But isn’t that one thing enough: “in whom there is no guile?” Jesus never said that about any of the other disciples, only Nathanael.
67. Job 2:8-9 “Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
68. Psalm 78:72 “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”
69. 1 Kings 9:1-5 “When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, 2 the Lord appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The Lord said to him: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 4 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.”
70. Job 2:3 “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
71. Genesis 31:39 (NIV) “I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night.”
72. Job 27:5 “I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.”
73. 1 Samuel 24:5-6 “Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”
74. Numbers 16:15 “Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”
75. John 1:47 (NLT) “As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”
We should all strive to be like Nathanael, with no guile, deception, or exploitation. Wouldn’t you love to arrive in heaven and have Jesus say that about you? Wouldn’t you love to have God brag about your integrity as He did with Job (maybe without the testing part)? Wouldn’t you love to have the testimony that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had – because of their integrity, a pagan king saw the power of the one true God.
One of the most incredible testimonies we can share about Jesus is living incorruptible lives of honesty and authenticity.
[i] The Discovery Bible, https://biblehub.com/greek/4710.htm