The integrity of the upright guides them. Proverbs 11:3
Abel Mutai, a Kenyan runner competing in a grueling international cross-country race, was mere yards from victory—his lead secure. Confused by the course’s signage and thinking he’d already crossed the finish line, however, Mutai stopped short. The Spanish runner in second place, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, saw Mutai’s mistake. Rather than take advantage and bolt past for the win, however, he caught up to Mutai, put out his arm and guided Mutai forward to a gold-medal win. When reporters asked Anaya why he purposefully lost the race, he insisted that Mutai deserved the win, not him. “What would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of that medal? What would my mom think of that?” As one report put it: “Anaya chose honesty over victory.”
Proverbs says that those who desire to live honestly, who want their lives to display faithfulness and authenticity, make choices based on what’s true rather than what’s expedient. “The integrity of the upright guides them” (11:3). This commitment to integrity isn’t only the right way to live, but it also offers a better life. The proverb continues: “But the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (v. 3). In the long run, dishonesty never pays.
If we abandon our integrity, short term “wins” actually yield defeat. But when fidelity and truthfulness shape us in God’s power, we slowly become people of deep character who lead genuinely good lives.
Where’s your integrity being tested right now? What are the choices before you—and how do they increase (or decrease) your integrity?
God of integrity, You’re honest and faithful. Make me more like You. Teach me how to live uprightly.
The word integrity in Proverbs 11:3 comes from the root word tamam, meaning “to be complete, be finished, be at an end.” It denotes moral wholeness and innocence. These qualities are reflected in Job’s life: “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’ ” (Job 2:3). Another form of this Hebrew word appears in Psalm 15:2, where it’s translated “blameless.” Who is it that will enjoy fellowship with God? The person of integrity, “the one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart.”