Integrity In and Out

Written by Ruthie Cordova – Professor, Seminario Teologico Nazareno, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Scripture: Daniel 6:1-4

“It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel.

The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss.

Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
(New International Version)

Background
Darius the Mede was the king who governed after GeneralCyrusthat defeated the Babylonian kingdom (5:31, 9:1).

While restructuring the government, Darius established an administrative structure which involved 120 financial administrators called satraps. He set as their immediate superiors three governors or supervisors to ensure an organized and faithful system of taxation and collection for the nation. (6:1-2).

Scriptures relate that of the three governors, Daniel was superior over the other two in the sense that he was very smart, wise and capable (6:3).

What wonderful qualities in a leader!

Would you like to be recognized by these qualities?
Do you stand out at your work? in your studies? inyour ministry?

Daniel, a leader for the times (or “the leader of the moment”)
King Darius saw in Daniel an extraordinary spirit and great capacity, and for that reason he gave him authority and responsibility to govern the nation. Daniel had already shown his leadership as an interpreter of dreams during Nebuchadnezzar’sreign by making him ruler over the wise men (2:48, 4:19) and then he was appointed as governor over the province of Babylon (2:49).

Are you trustworthy? Can people trust you? Can your superiors see in you something that makesthem entrust you with their business, their home or their children?Can your boss give you a position of trust?

Imagine it! (perhaps something like “Daniel was the ‘head honcho,’ the ‘big man’)Daniel was the key person in the kingdom. Everyone was accountable to him. His leadership and capacity were so obvious that the king considered promoting him as a kind of “Prime Minister” of his kingdom.

Daniel was trustworthy. He was a leader. He had charisma. He also was an Israelite. Now, he was being promoted to a higher position. This made the other kingdom administrators turn “green” with envy (6:4a).

So, the administratorsstarted to seek flaws, motives or any action against Daniel’s administration in order to accuse him before the king and the whole nation.

I am sure that Daniel’s colleagues watched him very closely everyday to see if he would misuse funds from the treasury. It is possible that they even planned some situations just to try to make him look bad or make him fall.

If video cameras had existed in those times, it is possible that Daniel’s colleagues would have put some at his office and other places. They would have hired people to have Daniel followed and watched 24 hours a day to check on him, especially when he would deal with government’s money. They would check on Daniel’s savings; they would audit his financial reports and verify that he was paying his taxesto the government. They would ask questions of the people that would have been in contact with Daniel. If the administrators could not find any proof of Daniel’s wrong- doing then they would create one, just to provoke Daniel and then immediately accuse him before the king.

But whatever those envious administrators and supervisors did to make Daniel fall so they could accuse him did not work. Why?

Read the following verses:
v. 4b “because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

Daniel was an honest man and they could not find any mistake, fault or vice in him.

Not even found something against the law of his God (6:5)
Can your co-workerssay the same thing about you?
Can your classmates, relatives, friends and neighbors say the same thing about you?

Why was Daniel a person that everyone admired and respected? What was that that Daniel showed in his life that made king Darius put his complete trust in a foreigner?

Because Daniel was a young man that loved God with his whole heart and obeyed Him completely. He had high values and life standards higher than those of any other nation that worshiped other gods. He knew in whom he had believed. In other words, Daniel was holy like his God that he worshiped. One trait of his holy life was his integrity.

Daniel was a man of integrity. He passed the tests of one political crisis after another. His reputation as an honest person of integrity traveled far away to reach the ears of the new governors, who did not want to miss the opportunity of having a person such as Daniel within their circle of political leaders.

Integrity! What does it really mean?
ILLUSTRATION

In my hands I have an onion. I am sure that all of you know what an onion looks like.
This onion has a shape of an onion. It has the color of an onion. Right?
If I start peeling this onion, it will continue being an onion.
If I chop it in pieces, it is still an onion.
If I eat it, it will taste like onion.
If I smell it, it smells like onion.
If I cook it, it will smell like an onion being cooked.
The onion’s smell is strong. If I would hide onions in some secret place in my house, we could find them right away because it is easy to detect.
The odor of an onion does not go away easily. It sticks to everything. We could not hide this smell with another,stronger smell.
In conclusion, what you see in this onion from the outside in and from the inside out is just an onion. It does not change.

Daniel waslike an onion inside and out.. Not because he had a strong smell but because Daniel’s character had a strong quality, difficult to corrupt or to hide. Instead, Daniel’s life shined everywhere. He was like an onion whose odor was known to everyone. This quality was his integrity. He was a person of integrity from the inside out – through and through.

Integrity is authenticity
Integrity is a condition that does not vary with circumstances of life or personal preferences.

Integrity is an ethical quality. It is moral excellence. It is honesty. It is innocence. It does not have bad motives nor improper behavior.
Integrity is righteousness of the heart. It is transparency.

In Scripture we find a number of characters that were examples of integrity such as Moses, Job, Elisha, David, Paul and others. Christians today need to admire and imitate these Bible heroes.

Sometimes, Christians are in a place or position for a reason. That reason is to show others what a Christian looks like. Some people whom you relate to do not have any idea what a Christian looks like. Others may have prejudices against Christians. Some people may not like Christians at all because they had bad experiences.

What kind of Christian are you? Are you showing God’s character in your life with your words and actions? Are you a person of integrity? Are you transparent? Do you tell the truth all the time? Do your actions go ( maybe match up )with your words? Are you honest with money, time, and resources?

Integrity is not a quality that you are born with. It is something that you nurture. Daniel nurtured his integrity from his youth.

Read chapter 1:3

Who was Daniel? His name means “God is my judge”. He was one of the most admired young men in Judah during King Jehoiakim’s time.
Daniel was one of the members of the royal nobility.

During the wars of the last (recent)? Here I refer to wars many years ago. If any of the the World Wars did this then include it centuries, in order to win some countries would kill leaders and thinkers as a strategy to destabilize a nation and have complete control over it.

But in Bible times, when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah, he took Daniel along with the best of the Israelite leadership to Babylon to eventually work for him as part of his strategy.

The king would ask to select a certain number of young men with specific qualities and traitsto serve in the king’s palace. They were to receive an intensive three-year course in Chaldean culture. This would include learning the language, religion, law, literature, traditions, etc.(1:4).

What was the purpose of it? By choosing young men and not old, the Babylonians ensured that the youth would have the energy and the skillsto learn faster and assimilate the changes of a new culture. They would have vision and strength and become potential tools for leadership in the kingdom.

Satan uses the same strategy through cults, political parties, music, philosophies, and other type of movements to focus on young people. He uses the means of the world to seduce young people in order to indoctrinate them with low values, wrong ideas that go against God. Satan seeks to manipulate young people as he prepares them to rebel and challenge authority. He also desensitizes their hearts, filling their minds with violence and pornography.

Why? Because Satan knows that young people are an important force. They are willing to give themselves for a cause. They are idealists. They want changes. They will become the adults of the future. They will produce the chaos of the future within families and societies.

King Nebuchadnezzar was not satisfied that these young Israelites would learn just the culture and the language of Babylon or that they would prepare to become members of the royal court but this process of acculturalation would also include an exchange of their birth namesfor Chaldean names.

Thus Daniel was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “protects his life”, Hananiah was changed to Shadrach, Mishael was changed to Meshach and Azariah was changed to Abednego (1:6). By doing this, the Babylonian king wanted to provide a new identity and to delete everything that would remind them of their land and their home culture.

Also, as part of the preparation to become a member of the royal court, the young Israelites had to learn to eat and drink the king’sfood. This was the best of the best, of course. In fact, it was an honor to eat the same food asthe king (1:5a).

Now, let’s think of Daniel as a handsome man, with dark brown eyes, sure of himself. He is looking directly to the king servant’s eyes. The servant is carrying a beautiful silver tray with exquisite food and drinks.

It is lunch time. Daniel and his friends are hungry and tired after a busy morning studying the Chaldean culture.

At that moment, Danielspeaks to the chief official with an assertive voice: “I am sorry but I won’t partake of the royal meal. Please, do not make me eat it nor defile myself with it”.

Verse 8 says that “Daniel resolved in his heart”, that is to say that he reached a decision. He assumed a stand. It was his conviction that he would not eat nor drink wine from the king’s food. Therefore, he and his friends refused.

Why did Daniel reject the king’s food? Until now he had not rejected any of the changes imposed on him. Wasit because the food was not good? Was it because Daniel suspected that he could be poisoned? Or perhaps was because the Babylonian servant did not bring Daniel’s favorite meal?

Some Bible scholars provide possible reasons for Daniel’s rejection to eat the king’s food. One reason would be that the meats served at the table were not allowed for the Israelites according to their law (Lev. 11:41-44). In general, the Babylonians ate animals that drag their bodies on the ground like reptiles and that was considered abomination before God. Also, the blood of the animals was not drained out completely and the Babylonians would cook it that way (Lev. 17: 10).

Another reason for Daniel’s denial to eat the king’s food would be that some of that food was dedicated to the pagan gods of the Babylonians.

Another probable reason would be that Daniel simply decided to remain faithful in regard to his Israelite ways, customs, traditions and meals.

Because of the attitude that Daniel assumed, God rewarded him at that moment (v. 9) and his friends too (v. 17).

Daniel’s beliefs and faithfulness to God were tested. Since he was a child, Daniel had learned the law and what the Lord requires from his people. For Daniel, eating the king’s food was breaking his faith so he avoided any occasion to sin against the Lord.

Daniel was brave enough to say NO and to persevere in his conviction. And this was not the first time that Daniel’s integrity had been tested. His convictions were tested over and over such as his trust in God (interpretation of the king’s dream 2:18-19), his worship to Yahweh (blazing furnace 3:13-18), his loyalty to the king (political position-den of lions 6:3-4) and his faithfulness to God throughout the years and empires.

Have you been tested in any area of your Christian life by your co-workers? Friends? Neighbors? o rRelatives? How did you come out after a test of integrity? Were you faithful to your own convictions and standards?

Daniel realized that partaking from the king’s table, although the food was very good , was against his faith in God. When he had to stand for what he believed he was brave to say NO and assume a rejecting attitude. Daniel chose to be an example for his Israelite friends and for Babylon. He was prepared to pay the price with his life to show others what it meant to live in holiness.

Today more than ever, there is a need in our societies for young people like Daniel to remain faithful and strong in order to face the daily challenges that the world presents. Money, power, sex, peer pressure, position, infidelity, vice, crime, violence are some of the things that control the world and seek to defile everyone.

Christian! In YOU liess the power to choose to let yourself be “defiled” or not.
In YOU resides the power to serve God or the devil.
In YOU is the power to say NO or YES to carnal passions, desires and to fall into temptations that Satan and the world subtly offer.

Today people like Daniel are needed, whose convictions have been put to the test. People of great and steady faith, clean and pure hearts, perseverant in prayer and faithful. People that are willing to suffer and be broken, willing to be molded by the Holy Spirit, willing to see this world with Jesus’ eyes.

Yes, there is a huge need in society for people that live in integrity. People of integrity inside and out, like an onion. Are you that person?

How can you become a person of integrity?

1. Clean your heart from sin. Allow the Holy Spirit’s power to clean your heart, your mind and your conscience from evil desires to serve the living God only. Decide to live in your life according to the Scripture’steachings.

2. Fill your heart and mind of Christ. Do not allow your mind and eyes to be filled with scenes of violence and sexual passions.By doing this, your mind gets filthy and your heart becomes insensitive. Instead, fill it with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” (Phil. 4:8).

3. Live your values and convictions but also stand for them with all your heart. Do not accept or yield to the values of this world that does not know God. Its purposes are to change absolute values for relative values and to introduce a lifestyle that is the opposite of what God wants you to have as Christian, as the new “normal” or the new trend to follow by this generation.

James encouraged the believers by saying: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (other versions say: …and he will give you a pure heart and filled of love).” (James 4:8).

Because the apostle knows that:

God is calling you to be saved. This is the time that your life needs to be nurtured with God’s Word. This is the time when God’s Word is forming and growing your relationship with the Lord each day. If you do not allow God to nurture you with His values of love, purity and righteousness in your life then the world will fill you with theirs.

God is calling you to be holy. This is the continuity of your Christian growth in your spiritual life. It is the cleansing of original sin and the purification of your heart to be filled with perfect love.

God is calling you to serve. This is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your life in relationship to God and to others. The more evident your love for your neighbor and even for your enemy is, the more evident your love for God will be.

Daniel and his friends were holy young people that loved God and kept their hearts and mind clean from any thought, action, word or evil experiences. They lived up to their values, convictions and were prepared to even die for them if it was necessary.

Daniel became known as a person of integrity because “They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. ”

ALTAR CALL

Would you like to be known as a person of integrity like Daniel?
Would you like to have a life as transparent as crystal and as authentic and pure as gold?

Integrity depends upon the right choices you make now.

Are you prepared to be tested in your beliefs?
Are you willing to take a radical stand of obedience to God?
Are you committed to say NO to temptations and subtle invitations of this world?

Please stand up and close your eyes.

I invite you to come to this altar to ask the Lord to clean your heart today and fill it with His presence and give you His power to live holy day by day.

Is there anyone who wants the Lord to work in his/her heart and start becoming a person of integrity?

Is there anyone who wants to enjoy a clear conscience in which there is nothing to hide so you enjoy a close and intimate communion with God?

Have you been challenged today to be like Daniel?

Daniel, who was not afraid of being who he was because no one could find anything wrong in him.

Daniel, who was not afraid to say NO and not going against his own convictions.

Daniel, who was not afraid of trusting God to deliver him from death.

Daniel, who was not afraid that everyone would know that he worshiped and served Yahweh, the only living God.

Come and kneel at this altar.
Ask the Lord to clean and purify your heart from evil and from any desire to be “contaminated” with this world.

Ask the Lord to help you to be brave and firm when your faith in and loyalty to Jesus Christ are being tested.

Ask the Lord to fill your heart and mind with the fullness of Christ so the Holy Spirit makes you perfect in love.

Ask the Lord for strength and courage to stand for your values and convictions whether be in words or actions and be willing to give your life for them.

Pray the Lord with all your heart and He will sanctify you.

Let’s pray together.

Leave a Reply