An integer is a whole number, not a fraction. It is complete. Nothing hiding. Not cracked. Unbroken.

Integrity has to do with being an integer — being whole, honest, unhidden, lacking deception.

My oldest son is named Emett from the Hebrew word for truth (אֱמֶת). What’s interesting about the Hebrew word is that it is less a mathematical truth (1+1=2 kind of truth) and more a relational truth (“be true to your school” and “true blue” kind of truth). As such, it has more to do with integrity and trustworthiness than with legal accuracy, where something can be misleading and yet factually correct.

The Hebrew notion of truth arises from the experience of the Hebrew people with their God. His words were reliable. His actions were consistent. They could count on him. He didn’t fail. He was always the same. He never set out to mislead them. They could build their lives on what he said, for his words were rock solid, backed up by matching deeds.

We live in a culture that has traded fantasy for reality, where computer animation and Photoshop have us not sure about what we see on our screens. We live in a culture that has majored on legally accurate statements that attempt to conceal rather than reveal. The examples of acceptable deception are too many to name.

Wouldn’t it be great to know that what others said is actually reliable? That you could lean on them and not fall over? That there was real substance to everything they said or did? That you could do business with them with full confidence?

That’s the kind of world I want to live in. And, of course, living in that world requires that I myself be a person of integrity.

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