Integrity: Lessons from Daniel

in·teg·ri·ty noun

integritythe quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

  • "he is known to be a man of integrity"
  • synonyms:          honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness
  • "I never doubted his integrity"
  • antonyms:          dishonesty

the state of being whole and undivided.

  • "upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty"
  • synonyms:          unity, unification, coherence, cohesion, togetherness, solidarity
  • "the integrity of the federation"

In the book of Daniel, we read two stories:

Daniel 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Fiery Furnace

8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9 They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

billboardintegrityDaniel 6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Daniel and the Lions' Den

6 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

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Let's put this in perspective, evil men (call them angry, bitter, sinful men that can very well be in our lives today) who completely bend the rules knowingly deceiving the Law (in this case, the King) for an outcome that they want for themselves.  Was this fair?  No!  Was this equal? No!  Could evil have prevailed?  Perhaps, if God willed it.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego even said that if even they were to parish in the fire that they would still worship God - that is Integrity of body, mind, spirit and strength.

What about for us today?  What if we work in an office or community or are collectively volunteering by others and this occurs to us (what if this even occurs to us by other professing Christians)?  Then what?  How should we proceed?  Do we fight, do we run and quit or how about this - we hold our integrity!  How about we let the Holy One work his greater plan out for us.  What if we pray for our enemies and for those who have us struck down and/or maligned?  What if, just what if, we prayed for God's will in our life and lived in such a way that we heard His will for us on how to handle it, what to do?

So did the two stories in Daniel work out for these Godly men who trusted God and relied on their integrity to see them through:

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

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Sometimes when we live in these circumstances (and I have) it seems unbearable and unfair and that no one can ever understand the difficulty and stress that we are in.  Pray for these situations and ask God to give you the wisdom and discernment of how to proceed.  Try never to act out of anger - for that is not God's will for our life.  When in doubt , seek His will first in our life by prayer and petition.

Stand on your character (that God has given to those who love Him), live by God's word and His integrity.  Above all, trust the One who has gone before and will come after everything.

I like this poem:

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. (by Frank Outlaw)

Thoughts?

Blessings,

Dante