Building Character

A Biblical Teaching On Integrity For Kids

Are you looking biblical teaching on integrity? This character trait is an essential a part of parenting our children in Christ. Integrity is a widely valued and appreciated character trait, and one worth taking the time to teach well.

God’s desire for his people to live with integrity can be vividly seen in in the gospels. So that’s where we are going to explore integrity today.

What does it mean to have integrity?

To have integrity means being consistent, whole, and honest, in what you say, think, and do. The truth is that the good and bad things we do and say start with our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23). 

No matter how good we talk about ourselves, our behaviors and attitudes reveal what’s really going on inside of us. And what we value becomes obvious when we face hard choices. 

Often, who we really are is revealed when we think no one is watching.

God knows our thoughts, who we really are, and wants us to be the same whether or not someone else is watching.

Parenting in Christ: Lessons from the Parables

Integrity is important in relationships because it builds trust and creates closeness. 

A parent with integrity is a blessing to their child” (Proverbs 20:7).

biblical teaching on integrity

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Hypocrisy

If we are not truthful about what we really think and feel, if we pretend to be better than we are, we are hypocrites

Hypocrites hide who they are and what they value most. 

They pretend to be good, lying in order to get other people will like them. They are overly proud and not worthy of trust.

Research indicates that children start out believing all lies and bad, but learn over time that some lies are OK. And they learn to lie for the same reasons adults do. They do it to get out of trouble, to impress or protect someone, or to be polite.

As parents, it’s tempting to lie to get children to do what they should, but this destroys trust. It is a hollow victory and a decisive betrayal.

Jesus’ Integrity

A large part of Jesus’ ministry on earth involved revealing truth and restoring wholeness.

In John 18:37 he said, “For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

There many bible stories about integrity. One of my favorites is in Luke 10:30-35. Here, a teacher of the law questions Jesus, nitpicking about what it means to love your neighbor. If you are looking for an escape clause to get out of loving others, your heart is in the wrong place.

If you are looking for an escape clause to get out of loving others, your heart is in the wrong place. #love #integrity Click To Tweet

In response, Jesus shared the following parable from which we can learn a lot, especially about integrity. He speaks to the issue of holiness & love – outside appearances and acting (or failing to act) in a way that demonstrates inner holiness.

A Bible Story About Integrity

A man was going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Some robbers surrounded him, tore off his clothes, and beat him. Then they left him lying there on the ground almost dead.

It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he did not stop to help him. He walked away. Next, a holy man came near. He saw the hurt man, but he went around him. He would not stop to help him either. The holy man just walked away.

Then a Samaritan man traveled down that road. (Samaritans were hated and considered criminals). He came to the place where the hurt man was lying. He saw the man and felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to the hurt man and poured olive oil and wine on his wounds (to help him). Then he covered the man’s wounds with cloth. He put the man on his donkey, and he took him to a hotel. There he cared for him. The next day, the man took out two silver coins and gave them to the hotel manager. He said, “Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come by again.”

Luke 10:30-35 from the Easy to Read Version with additional explanation in the parentheses provided by the author.

Breaking down the story

The holy men in this parable were hypocrites. They pretended to be holy, but their actions showed that their hearts were not holy. These men who claimed to know God, did not love others or care about their suffering.

God is loveIf you know God, you know love, and you care for others (I John 4:21). 

When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like it.

The teacher of the law was looking to have Jesus validate the way he was already living, rather than conforming himself to love bigger and more boldly, as God is calling all of us to.

A Man of Integrity and Character

The Samaritan man stepped outside of the norm. He took a risk and spent money and time to care for a stranger, who was most likely Jewish – a people at odds with his people. Nevertheless, his heart and character held enough love to cover over any rivalry or pride and to do what was right.

Certainly, our children need courage, like the Samaritan man, to do what is unpopular and unexpected, when it is the right thing to do. Our children need encouragement from us to be bold and defiant in the face of evil.

Our children need encouragement from us to be bold and defiant in the face of evil. #integrity #faith Click To Tweet

Living in such honesty requires great courage to be truthful, to reveal our weakness and failure, and to stand up for what’s right in the face of pressure to do otherwise.

This doesn’t mean we need to be perfect, but humble and honest, especially about our failures (I John 1:8), “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’, ‘no.”(Matthew 5:37). The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie. 

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Biblical Teaching on Integrity

Three Tips for Building Integrity

Integrity is not a concrete concept and can be difficult to teach our children. So here are three tips to help you create an environment that inspires your children to live in integrity.

Tell Inspiring Stories

Tell children stories of when someone told bravely told the truth. It is more effective for encouraging kids to be honest than cautionary tales about the dangers of lying. We can share these stories and help them to be honest by giving them confidence that we will be understanding with them in their weakness.

Make It Easier To Confess

We can give them courage, by offering them grace, help, and prayer in their time of need, just as Jesus has done for us (Hebrews 4:15-16, Ephesians 3:12, James 5:16). As we say in the parable, Jesus did not condemn the teacher of the law, but patiently challenged him to see how much greater love can be.

Be A Good Example

And of course, we can be an example of courageous integrity in the way we live. We can respond to our children with extraordinary love and patience.

For example, consider how you respond to a child who is having a meltdown. How can your response encourage or discourage them towards authenticity and integrity? And hos does your response demonstrate integrity?

Get your free integrity bible verse coloring pages for you and your kids

Some Final Thoughts on Integrity

Integrity is certainly one of those lessons better caught then taught. If you don’t live a life of integrity, much less teach it, you’re not going to see it in your kids.

If you have teens, you also might find my 5 Tips for Dealing with a Lying Teenager blog post helpful on our non-profit ministry blog at Finally Family Homes.

More Bible Studies on Integrity

This blog post includes excerpts from my book, Parenting in Christ: Lessons from the Parables.

If you’re looking for a youth bible study on integrity, it can be found in the companion book, Growing in Christ: Lessons from the Parables for Kids.

If you’d like to dig deeper into biblical teaching on integrity, I recommend digging into the gospels and asking, “What did Jesus do or say that was unexpected or might have made others feel uncomfortable?: Most likely, he was revealing a truth or being honest about something that could offend someone’s pride or challenge appearances. He was demonstrating moments of bold integrity.

If you’d like to read more about raising children of integrity and character, check out:

How to Raise Grateful Kids

Teaching Humility to Kids

How to Teach Kids About Prayer

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Christina Dronen

Christian mom who practices gentle parenting. Author of the Parenting In Christ Bible study discussion guides.

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17 Comments

  1. Stephen De La Vega says:

    Hi Christina. Just a thought in response to your question at the end. I think there are several ways we can respond to a child in meltdown without allowing our anger or frustration to take over. E.g., a gentle calmness is great, and when we do it consistently, we develop a sense of integrity in the heart of the child. I think this kind of integrity can be very comforting and the child begins to know what to expect and understands there is someone who cares about them as a person with real needs and not about their outrage or shut down. Integrity goes a long way, but it takes time to build it. Great post.

    1. Yes! That’s a great example. In parenting like that we show that who we are and how we behave is not determined by our children. That really does create I think a great deal of security for a kid – to know that their parent is so solid. It’s revealing us living out the biblical teaching on integrity – by demonstrating our dependence on Christ, even when it’s hard.

  2. Chip Mattis says:

    I love the topic of integrity. It is a great lesson for kids to learn early. What does our behavior say about what we believe? Do our words match our actions?
    I remember my grandma telling me to do as she said not as she did. But that only went so far with me. I learned that I should do what was expedient. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned what the Lord expected of me in the way of integrity. Good thoughts, Christina.

    1. Me too Chip! I was also told “do as I say and not as I do” – and used to hate to hear it. Thank you also for the encouragement… I hope I can get better in living in ways that I can say to my kids “do as I do, which is the same as what I say.” 🙂

  3. Julie says:

    I think we can tell our kids that it is ok to feel emotions, God gave them to us. The problem is feeling the emotion and acting out on it. Jesus is the example for us. He experienced emotions while on earth but didn’t let the emotions control Him.

    1. Yes Julie – that’s a great point too. Sometimes my first impulse is to “fix” emotions – or really to stop the expression of them that makes me uncomfortable. You are right on- we can help the have integrity (wholeness) by letting them feel their feelings, but helping them to express them appropriately rather than stuffing or pretending they aren’t there.

  4. Yvonne Morgan says:

    I enjoyed your post Christina. Integrity and authenticity are vital for our lives to reflect the light of our Savior. It is also important that we teach our children the importance of these traits in their lives also. Thanks

  5. Melissa Henderson says:

    We must always be aware that we are being watched, by children and adults. Our words and actions can show our love for God. Show His love always. 🙂

  6. Nancy E. Head says:

    “When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like doing it.”
    Love that message.

  7. Claudio says:

    Integrity is so important, if not one of the most important characteristics in building trust in all relationships whether they be family, work, church, friends, community. Your post is a great reminder for all.

  8. Jessica Brodie says:

    Great post. The line that really resonated with me was this: “When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don’t feel like doing it.” I’d like to put this on a T-shirt! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jessica! I’m glad you liked that… I think in this sometimes over-valuing of feelings culture -it’s needed!

  9. Anne Mackie Morelli says:

    Love the comment, “Who we really are is revealed when no one is watching.” This is a challenge for all of us to consider – are we consistent across our circumstances? Are we so fully integrated that we can remain and behave in a similar way when we are alone as we do when we are in public and there is a chance we are being watched? I often think of how we notice something – even something simple – and we ignore it or change how we behave because we think things like we don’t have time to stop and deal with it, or it is none of our business, or its not our problem, or we might offend others, or worry about what they will think…. We think these things don’t really matter in the big scheme of things. And yet, we must remember God is always watching us and alway desires that we follow his example and his expectations about how we should act. He calls us to be faithful in the little things as well as the big things. I also agree children watch us and learn from both what we say and what we do. And as a counsellor and educator – I can affirm children are very sensitive to and aware of whether the adults around them have integrity and their words and action match. As they observe adults they do notice the degree of integrity ,and in turn that influences the degree to which they decide to trust, listen and learn from that adult.

  10. Brianna Martin says:

    Christina, I love this! Integrity is so essential and our kids are the first to know when we’re being hypocritical. It affects them so deeply! Thanks for posting.

  11. This is a great post, Christine! There’s often so much emphasis on being nice among parents in teaching their Christian children about life, that we completely forget about instructing our children to be defiant in the face of evil. This is a weak point in our parental understanding and discipleship. Standing up to evil requires integrity and strength. This is an excellent post! Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Thanks Melinda. 🙂 I agree.. there is an overemphasis on being nice, polite, and compliant in most mainstream parenting styles. Yet Jesus was none of theses at times. He walked away from angry mobs, stood up to the authorities, and even defied religious traditions. Because his kingdom is not of this world, he does not submit to it – and neither should any of us as his followers. Part of being a follower of Christ is being willing to deviate from the mainstream – whether its culture or even cultural Christianity.

      It’s a terribly difficult thing to do I think. The more we can establish that as a practice in our children, the better equipped they will be to do the right thing when they are on their own.

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