“The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Everyone has a skeleton closet somewhere. That could be an anthem for our times, couldn’t it? We live in a day of mistrust and cynicism, especially toward our political leaders. We have seen elected official after elected official sacked by scandal. We have seen leaders who we all figured were scandal-ridden live down to our expectations. We have seen no-name figures gain a name for themselves because of some scandal. We have even seen folks who held character and integrity out as reasons to elect them fall to scandal, often on the very point of their character emphasis. My friends, this should not be.
Daniel stood out for his character and never fell from that perch. Daniel was a Jew living as an exile in Babylon who found himself appointed to be one of the highest-ranking officials in the entire empire. He advanced not on his political skill or by making the right connections or by gaining influence through intrigue, but by living consistently with his confession and never once moving from that spot.
As followers of Jesus, this should be the goal we strive to reach. This is what should be normal for us. And yet our cynicism of character extends even to fellow followers of Jesus, especially ones who have achieved high positions of leadership in denominations or over large churches. Bill Hybels is still fresh in many minds. And yet, if Daniel could do it in an age before the Holy Spirit gave him the kind of help He does to us, we who have the Spirit dwelling in our very hearts should find it to be no problem. So…how do we do it?
Well, Daniel’s character summary here gives us some good pointers. The author here observed there were three things in particular that frustrated his foes. Daniel was trustworthy, he wasn’t negligent of his duties, and there was no corruption in him.
Imagine if all the followers of Jesus just got those three things right what a difference it would make in our culture. Imagine being totally trustworthy. We never broke confidence and consistently did what we said we would do. We’ve all but given up on having leaders we can actually trust. Followers of Jesus should be the ones to change this impression.
Imagine if there was no negligence in us. We always did what we were responsible to do and never left anything undone through laziness or disregard. How many elected leaders get into office and get so focused on the trappings of the position that they forget about doing what they actually signed up to do. We should be the ones to stop that trend no matter the position we hold.
Imagine if there was no corruption in us. We always did what was right and couldn’t be persuaded to do what was wrong no matter how sweet the offer was. How many folks have a price at which they are willing to forego their professed values in favor of whatever is offered in exchange for it? These are mercenaries. As soon as we reveal ourselves to be mercenaries, our values are gone and we are worshiping money, not God. Mercenaries sow cultural cynicism. Followers of Jesus can have no part in that.
Daniel gives us a great example of a follower of God who stood tall in an incredibly hostile cultural context precisely because of His faith. In a day when culture is crumbling and shifting to embrace new values that will not hold up under the strains of society, his example is one we need more folks to follow. Let it start with us.