It’s a bad habit. I’m trying to quit. But, like many suit-wearers, I find myself doing it almost every Sunday morning: ironing only the front of my shirt. What you see, then, is a five-star dress shirt—sleek and spruce without a single flaw. The suit coat conceals the wrinkles on the sleeves and yoke, so why not?
Even so, I don’t recommend this trick because there is one teensy drawback: you can never take the coat off! Thus, it is always better to iron the whole shirt. There is nothing to hide when the pleats and plackets are crisp and clean. You don’t have to hide wrinkles if there aren’t any. You can take the suit off without embarrassment when the inside looks as good as the outside.
This is what the Bible calls integrity. It’s when the shirt looks as good as the suit—when your character matches your appearance. It is living in such a way that you have nothing to hide. Integrity is being the same person behind closed doors as you are on the stage of public life. Integrity irons the wrinkles on your character, freeing you to throw off the suits of pretense, falsehood, and hypocrisy.
There is no security in the sparkling tuxedo of false piety because it will eventually come off. Solomon thus warned, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Prov. 10:9). And when the shirt of your inner self is ironed by integrity, people who try to point out your “wrinkles” will be embarrassed. That’s why Peter said,
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Iron your shirt. Keep your character wrinkle-free like the Man whose character was perfect:
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Obviously, your character will always have a few wrinkles. Perfection can only be attained in glory when you wear robes of white (Rev. 3:5). But, you can plug into the outlet of God’s sanctifying power to heat up the iron of integrity so the Lord may smoothen your character to look like His (2 Cor. 3:18).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).