Old-Fashioned Integrity

Daniel did more than sit among the closed-mouthed lions. He lived a life a integrity, wisdom, and insight. How? The same way he ended up in the lions' den - through prayer.

You'll remember that Daniel's three-times-daily habit of prayer landed him in a den of hungry lions while the king who esteemed him paced the floor and lost his appetite. But I imagine Daniel just did what came naturally to him as he was thrown into the cave of lions by his jealous adversaries. He surely prayed.

And just in case Daniel faltered for even a moment in his faith, King Darius, who obviously esteemed Daniel highly, shouted out to him, "Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you." Isn't it amazing how sometimes those around us have more faith in the God they've seen us follow than we have within ourselves? But even that faith is based on the consistent way they've seen us follow our God to that point.

Daniel did indeed survive the lions' den. In fact, he attested that his God sent His angel to shut the lions' mouths and they did not harm him at all. Why? Because Daniel was innocent before God and before the king. He had committed no crime. He was a man of integrity and God honors and loves truth in the inner man.

O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? 
Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
(Psalm 15:1-2)

I've always heard and really even believed that there are no perfect people in the Bible, only a perfect and holy God. Each biblical character has their flaws and we usually get a least a glimpse of those faults to help us remember they too needed a savior. 

But no faults are really recorded about Daniel. We know he wasn't perfect because in Daniel 9:20 he says, "Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel..." Daniel evidently had sins to confess, but God in His sovereignty has not seen fit to list even one of them in His Word - quite unusual. Unlike the lessons He wants us to learn from the sins of David, the shortcomings of Joseph, the terrible past of Paul, or the unpredictability of Peter, God must want us to dwell on the integrity of Daniel.
Sometimes we use the faults and sins of well-known and well-beloved biblical characters to excuse our own. We reason that if they couldn't live immaculate lives then neither can we. And indeed, we are born into sin and cannot live sinless lives. But we can live lives of honor and integrity. We can live above the fray. We can live free from habitual sin, free from sins that would master us and characterize us.

Psalm 119:133 says, "Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me." In other words, don't let my life be characterized by any sin, but let it be known for godliness and biblical living.

So today as we think about this biblical trailblazer, let's consider how he walked the ancient path with integrity of heart and character. God so esteemed him that He only mentions what is good and honorable about him in the Bible. There must have been no sin that so mastered Daniel that God found it necessary to make us aware of it. Could He and would He do the same for you or me? Is there a sin that would have to be mentioned in any narrative about me in order to present me fairly? Or would God go to such lengths as He did with Daniel to let others know that I am a woman of integrity? Personally, for me, I doubt it. I know my flaws all to well and can't imagine God leaving them out of "my story."

But then again Jesus has erased them all from the story of my life. Hallelujah and praise Him for that!

From Paul and Peter and David and others we may gain the courage to face our sins, confess them, turn from them, claim the gracious gift of righteousness restored, and live with hope. But from Daniel let us gain the courage and the conviction to live lives in which no sin takes center stage. Let us take the challenge to live lives of integrity.

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