There are a lot of examples that can be found in the Bible that speak of women of integrity…in the rich stories of the women who came before us. God’s word is meant to be an instruction manual for us. And through the stories of these women, we get some good instruction on how to live a life that is full of integrity.
Ruth: we get a glimpse of her willingness to put someone else before her when she decided to leave Moab with Naomi:
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
We see elsewhere in her story where she showed her integrity by working hard to provide for her mother-in-law, by showing respect an honor to both Naomi and Boaz, and by her devotion to Naomi in honoring her with a home and a grandchild in her old age.
Hard work, respect, honor, and devotion are characteristics of integrity.
Being barren in that day and time was cause for ridicule. And when your husband’s other wife is ale to produce many children, that makes it harder. Add to that the fact that this other wife, Penninah, taunted her relentlessly…
So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same – Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the tabernacle. (1 Samuel 1:6)
This taunting was enough to make a the typical woman lash out. But Hannah was a woman of deep integrity. Instead of lashing out at Peninnah, she took her pain and anguish and she cried out to God to help her. She begged for a son and promised to return it to God if her wish was granted.
Not responding to negativity with negativity is a sign of integrity.
Even further proof of her integrity was the fact that she did just what she said she would do. She weaned Samuel for three years, then took him to the temple and turned him over to the priest Eli. She honored her promise to the Lord.
When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. ( 1 Samuel 1:24)
(1 Samuel 1:27) I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.
How often do we make crazy promises to God and others in our moments of desperation, but not honor them once the crisis has passed?
Keeping your word is a sign of integrity
(Esther 4:15-16) Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
Esther was willing to put her own life on the line for the sake of her people. And while we are typically not asked to put our lives on the line, are we willing to sacrifice of self for the sake of others?
A woman of integrity is willing to put others before self.
You might find it strange that I would include this harlot of the olden days among my biblical women of integrity. She was a woman who had been selling her body for a decade, living in complete sin, and shamed for her actions. Two strangers, sent by Joshua, show up at her door, and she protected them against the king of Jericho.
So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) (Joshua 2:4-6)
She later helps them get away safely after they promise to come back for her and her family.
And we all know that they marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, cried out and blew their horns, and the walls of that city crumbled, except for Rahab’s house. She and her family were safe.
Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. (Joshua 6:17)
Not only was Rahab and her family spared because of the choice she made, but she went on to marry and be blessed with children, one of which is the beloved Boaz who brought love and hope to his beautiful bride Ruth.
A woman of integrity makes good choices.
There is something extra special about seeing the integrity of Rahab. It shows us that our past does not define our present and our future. Poor decisions we have made before, don’t keep us from making better ones now. The story of Rahab assures us that there is hope for all of us, no matter our backgrounds. No matter what type of woman we have been in the past, we can move into our future choosing to be a woman of integrity, and just like Rahab, we can receive the blessings that come from living a life of goodness.