Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Private Integrity Versus Public Integrity

Which is more important - integrity when others are watching, or integrity when no one is watching?

Common wisdom is that private integrity is far more important, because it reveals what is truly in our hearts without concern for what others will think of us getting in the way.

But for the Christian...there's another way to look at that, where public integrity gains importance.

This topic came to mind the other day when I was getting a cup of coffee, and I had both coffee and creamer but lacked sugar.  The location I was at provided sugar for pocket change.  I had the change in my purse in the other room, and knew I could get my sugar, then bring the change back, but opted to skip the sugar because I didn't want anyone to see my getting sugar without donating change and think I was stealing it.

We as followers of Christ are to be publically above reproach, and avoid even the appearance of evil.  It doesn't matter what people think of us, but it certainly does matter what people think of the God whose Name we bear!

So, for the Christian, private integrity is critical to our own individual walks with Christ, but our public integrity affects not only that, but also the impression others develop of Christ - impacting whether or not they come to salvation.

From that perspective, public integrity isn't about acting or hypocrisy - it's about making the harder choice, even when we are morally justified for our sake, to glorify Christ's reputation for others' sake.

So, private integrity or public integrity?  The best answer is: BOTH. ;-)

What are your musings on this issue?  What examples can you share?


Andrew's Myth said...

If someone practices public displays of integrity but has no private integrity to back it up, the external act is not integrity at all, because the person is living a lie.

Sapphire said...

Precisely - public integrity must flow from private integrity. :-) Either case (faking integrity in front of others, or having some beginning of integrity starting to grow on the inside but not yet living it out) is what objectivist philosophers would call the soul-body dichotomy. Actually exploring that topic in literature right now. :-)