I think that we all hide some messy stuff in our lives. We may practice sin that isn’t visible to others, or harbor thoughts that would embarrass us if they became public. There are times when this discrepancy between our inner selves and our outward appearance becomes an art form, as we try to walk the line of being two different people. There are other times when this conflict becomes a source of comedy, when a sitcom shows us what a character is thinking, despite actions and spoken words that are the exact opposite.
I think that we all want “integrity”, though, where our heart (feelings), mind (thoughts), soul (spirit), and body (actions and words) are all the same. It is a ton of work to maintain multiple personas, and to keep track of which one belongs in a particular environment. Having integrity is a lot easier, and frees up energy for living a more complete life of freedom.
Have a look at these verses from the book of James:
But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
James 3:14-16 NLT
As this passage says, we shouldn’t just hide bad things in our heart with a false front of bravado and lies. The first step in fixing something is to stop denying that it exists, whether that’s a rattle under the hood of a car, a water stain in the ceiling, or a pain in our body.
Once we stop hiding who we are on the inside, though, there’s suddenly another force at play: we are usually embarrassed at other people seeing our problems. Regrettably, this is why many of us don’t admit our problems in the first place. (I personally struggled with a medical problem for nearly a decade until I could admit it to a friend, who suggested that I actually see someone about it. Within a few months, I was being treated for this condition, and things were dramatically better!)
I’m not saying that we should be motivated to get better merely by the thought of being shamed when other people know our faults. Still, we usually don’t want to wait very long between admitting our problem and fixing it.
God already knows what is going on, so He is not surprised and He is not shocked. He doesn’t change His attitude towards us when we admit our shortcomings and our failures. Instead, He welcomes us and offers us healing, if we will accept it.
So, if you feel like your integrity is slipping – not just telling the truth, but being the same person inside and out – consider praying this prayer of David:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalms 51:10 NIV
If you look at the headings for Psalm 51, you’ll find that this wasn’t just David praying to keep a clean heart pure. Instead, it was asking God to perform some serious clean-up. When we are feeling jealous or selfish (and, as a result, have done things that we aren’t proud of), God has what we need to restore things. Then, we’re no longer acting differently from our heart, because our heart produces good actions in our lives (see Luke 6:45).
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.