Many people seem to have a hazy idea of what integrity is. For example, when politicians boast of their integrity, they often seem to mean honesty. That quality is important, but it is only a part of integrity. As used in the Bible, integrity involves moral completeness, soundness. The Hebrew words relating to “integrity” come from a root meaning sound, whole, or faultless. One of these words is used regarding the sacrifices to be offered to Jehovah. An animal for sacrifice gained his approval only if it was sound, or whole. (Read Leviticus 22:19, 20.) Jehovah strongly censured those who flouted his direction by offering lame, sick, or blind animals for sacrifice.—Mal. 1:6-8.
The idea of seeking and valuing that which is whole, or complete, is not strange. Imagine, for instance, a book collector who finds a precious volume after a long search, only to discover that it is missing several vital pages. Disappointed, he may put it back on the shelf. Or picture a woman walking on a beach, collecting some of the shells cast ashore by the waves. Fascinated by the variety and beauty of these creations, she now and again stoops to examine one. Which ones does she keep? The ones that are whole, intact. Similarly, God is seeking people who have this quality of wholeness, or completeness.—2 Chron. 16:9.
You may wonder, though, whether integrity demands perfection. Because we are damaged by sin and imperfection, we may tend to think of ourselves as being a bit like an incomplete volume or a damaged shell. Is that how you feel at times? Rest assured that Jehovah does not expect us to be perfect in the absolute sense. He never expects more of us than we can do. (Ps. 103:14; Jas. 3:2) Still, he does expect us to keep integrity. Is there a difference, then, between perfection and integrity? Yes. To illustrate: A young man loves a young woman whom he is going to marry. He would be foolish to expect her to be perfect. Yet, he would be wise to expect her to be wholehearted in her love for him, that is, to have romantic love for him alone. In a comparable way, Jehovah is “a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Ex. 20:5) He expects us, not to be perfect, but to love him wholeheartedly, giving worship to him alone.
We might be reminded of Jesus’ answer when he was asked what was the most important of all laws. (Read Mark 12:28-30.) Not only did Jesus give the answer; he lived it. He set the ultimate example in loving Jehovah with his whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. He showed that integrity is expressed, not in mere words, but in positive actions that spring from pure motives. Our keeping integrity calls on us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.—1 Pet. 2:21.
Here, then, is the essence of our integrity in the Scriptural sense: wholehearted devotion to one heavenly Person, Jehovah God, and to his expressed will and purpose. Keeping integrity means that in our day-to-day life, we will seek above all to please Jehovah God. Our priorities in life will reflect his priorities. Let us consider three reasons why this is so important.