Key Scriptures: Numbers 13:1, 17-33 – Numbers 14:9, Genesis 6:9, Deuteronomy 18:13, Proverbs 28:18, 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 18, 1 Samuel 24:1-12, Proverbs 2:7, Genesis 20:1-6, Job 1:1 & 8, Job 2:3 and Job 8:20
Guiding Question: What will our lives look like if we have integrity?
Optional Introductory Activity: (Note: You may want to capture qualities discovered by students as a list on a white board or chart paper.) Show a short video clip of a bridge or building collapsing (search “structural integrity test”). Ask students what they believe made the structure collapse.
Explain that “integrity” in a structure means it is designed to withstand a certain amount of stress without collapsing. If the integrity is compromised in some way – wear, rust, damage, etc. – it may actually collapse under much less stress.
Ask students to write this concept as some sort of formula or saying. Have them share their responses. (Ex.: With great integrity, great stress can be withstood.)
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Often when people say a person has integrity, what do they mean? Most people use “integrity” as a synonym for “honesty”. A few may also define integrity as morality. While those are correct assumptions, true godly integrity is much richer and fuller than just being honest and moral.
As we discuss integrity, I want you to think of yourself as a building. Your “building” will be exposed to a lot of stress over time. What do you think you will need to continue standing strong under a lifetime of stress?
Let’s start by looking at a group of twelve men in the Bible and see how well they handled stress. Read Numbers 13:1, 17-33 through Numbers 14:9. If integrity is the ability to tolerate stress without collapsing, what was the stressor in this story? Who had integrity and who didn’t? Are there any clues as to why Joshua and Caleb were able to withstand the stress when the others could not? What are they?
There are three different words in the Hebrew language that translate into our word “integrity”. The words themselves aren’t as important as what they add to our understanding of what it means to have godly integrity.
Genesis 6:9 is an example of when the word “tamin” is used to describe the integrity of Noah. What are the qualities the Bible associates with Noah and his integrity? Those adjectives are very similar to the definition of “tamin”. To have tamin integrity means you are blameless, sound, wholesome, unimpaired, and innocent. (www.internetbiblecollege.net)
Read Deuteronomy 18:13. Notice here, God’s people are actually commanded to have tamin integrity. There is even a promise in the Bible for those who have tamin integrity. Read Proverbs 28:18. Interestingly, tamin integrity is mentioned the most in two chapters celebrating the same event – 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18. Both are the song David wrote when God finally delivered him from King Saul’s attempts to kill him. Look at verses 23, 25, 30 and 32 in Psalm 18. What clues do these verses give us about integrity? (blameless, kept from sinning, faithful, way and strength found in God)
We know David wasn’t actually sinless, but when he repented, God forgave those sins. There is one story from this period in David’s life that illustrates his integrity. Read 1 Samuel 24:1-12. In that time, people in David’s position would have quickly killed King Saul. David’s integrity kept him from doing what others would have done. His faith in God’s promises, his respect and obedience of God’s commands helped him make a blameless choice. In fact, the Bible says he even felt guilty for cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe!
Integrity is also translated from the Hebrew word “tom”. “Tom” means simplicity, soundness and completeness. Read Psalm 26:1. What does this verse add to our understanding of integrity? (blameless, trusted in God, didn’t falter)
This word for integrity also comes with a promise. Read Proverbs 2:7. What does God do for those with integrity? It’s rather strange this type of integrity is associated with the pagan, King Abimelek of Gerar. Read Genesis 20:1-6. Tom integrity is used in verses 5 and 6. What does this add to our understanding of integrity? (clear conscience, clean hands)
The third Hebrew word for integrity is “tam”. It’s not used as often as the others, but it means “complete, morally innocent”. (www.internetbiblecollege.net) Tam integrity is associated with Job. Read Job 1:1, 8 and Job 2:3 and 8:20. What do these verses add to our understanding of integrity? (upright, feared God, shunned evil, blameless, maintains in spite of horrible circumstances) Psalm 37:37 gives us one last clue about integrity. What is it? (seeks peace)
So putting all of the pieces of integrity together, who is a person of integrity? What are they like? What choices do they make? What characteristics do they need to have the integrity to stay faithful to God even under tremendous stress like that experienced by David and Job?
Skills Activity: Review the definitions of integrity covered in the lesson. Explain that because we are human, we will sin. Without God’s forgiveness and help, we can never achieve true integrity. Since God expects His people to have integrity, what characteristics do they need to have? How can you improve in these areas in your own lives?
Divide students into pairs or small groups. As a class, list every characteristic a Christian with godly integrity will have. Some words you may wish to include are: honest, wholesome, innocent, faithful, follows God’s path, finds strength in God, blameless, obedient, respectful of God’s commands, trusts God, complete, avoids/shuns evil, responsible, accountable, reliable, trustworthy, authentic, knows God’s Words.
Give each group one or two words from the list. Have them think of things they can do to be that way more consistently in their own lives. Most lists will probably include Bible study and prayer. Encourage them to think of additional ways to have more integrity. More advanced students should be encouraged to find scriptures to help them remember the things their group chose.
If students are struggling, you can do this activity as an entire class instead of in small groups. Create a master list students can copy or you can email them later. If time allows, students may want to write a few key verses on notecards they can place at home or school to remind them of the areas on which they are striving to have more integrity.
Application challenge: Read Job chapters 1 and 2. If you were Job, could you have gone through those horrible tragedies and remained faithful to God like Job? What characteristics of integrity do you need to work on so you can have the integrity of Job? What are some practical things you can do to grow in these areas?