Strong Integrity

Abimelech, an ancient king in the Negev, was a man of integrity. Abraham and Sarah had told him a half-truth claiming that Sarah was Abraham’s sister. The real truth was that she was Abraham’s half-sister. When Abimelech claimed Sarah as a wife, God visited him in a dream, telling him the truth. He was appalled and returned Sarah immediately, saying, “I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands” (Gen.20:5). The Hebrew word for “a clear conscience” is from tamam, meaning integrity or innocence or uprightness.

Jesus told a story about a man with integrity. The man had two sons. One son wished his father dead. He wanted to get his hands on the inheritance. But his father wouldn’t die early enough, so the son brazenly asked for a premature carve-up of the family’s wealth. Having obtained his one-third share, his integrity deteriorated further as he squandered the money far from home. This prodigal eventually returned to the open arms of his father and the morose rage of his brother. This older brother’s integrity disintegrated into envy, snobbery and a palpable lack of kinship.

Throughout the story of the two sons, their father stands tall. Even the fact that he consented to give the money to his son should not be interpreted as moral weakness, indulgence or favouritism. The father realised that mature sons must take responsibility for their choices. Yes, it was a break with tradition, but a kind-hearted break.

The father, of course, represents our heavenly Father, the ultimate example of integrity. He is always honest, always morally upright, forever the one to be trusted.

– Milton Hook