Summary: Daniel passed both the peer test and the privacy test. He was a man of integrity.
What is integrity? The dictionary defines integrity as: "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. The state of being whole and undivided."
The last part of that definition refers to that fact that the word, "integrity" comes from the same Latin root as integer and implies a wholeness of person. Just as we would talk about a whole number, so we can talk about a whole person who is undivided. A person of
integrity is not divided. They are not a different person depending on their circumstances.
It's been said that "Integrity is what a person is in the dark." That is, they are the same whether or not they are in public or in private. But a person of integrity not only passes the privacy test; they will pass the peer test, as well. As we see with the example of Daniel.
God had placed Daniel in a difficult circumstance. He'd been ripped out of his comfort zone. He was a leader in the king’s court in Israel, but King Nebuchadnezzar took over Israel and made the high officials in Israel slaves in Babylon. So Daniel, who was a very wealthy official living in his comfort zone, suddenly found himself a slave.
Nebuchadnezzar did something interesting. He told one of his palace officials to pick the best and brightest and let them live in the palace and eat the king's food. So he brings in Daniel and his friends and they're chosen to live in the king’s palace. Now, they are still slaves, but they get to live in the king’s palace and eat the king’s food. The only problem was Daniel would violate God’s dietary requirements. In other words, the king's food wasn't kosher.
So, Daniel went to the official and said, "Why don’t you let some of our group eat the king’s food and why don’t you let me and my friends eat according to God’s dietary laws for ten days and see who is the strongest?" And at the end of ten days, Daniel and his friends were healthier than those who ate the king’s food.
As I said, Daniel not only passed the privacy test; he passed the peer test as well. That's why Daniel is a great portrait of integrity.
"I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." - 1 Chronicles 29:17 (NIV)
This verse says God is happy when we live a life of integrity. That God actually smiles when we choose to do the right thing, based on the right beliefs, at the right time. Well, certainly the actions of Daniel in our passage for today, must have made God smile.
As a child of God, I want to live in such a way as to make God smile, too. Don't you? Let's see what can we learn from Daniel's example.
1. Know what you believe.
Now, when we talk about belief today, we're talking about belief in truths that will enable those who profess to be children of God to live well. Where should a child of God look to discover what to believe?
A. We can look to ourselves.
This is where many today look for truth. In fact, a popular phrase used by some is "I need to discover 'my truth.'" According to this view, truth is purely subjective and there is no such thing as "absolute truth."
Ironically, however, statements like "All truth is relative" or "Absolute truth doesn't exist" are themselves claims of absolute truth, which proves that absolute truth does exist. Besides, every individual is limited in their knowledge and experience. Which means that
something you may think does not exist, might exist outside of the realm of your knowledge or experience.
It's like the atheist's claim that God doesn't exist. Do they know or have they experienced everything? Obviously, not. Therefore, if they are honest, they must admit that God could exist, and that they simply have yet to know or experience Him.
The point is, since each of us is limited in knowledge and experience, none of us is qualified to determine on our own what to believe.
B. We can look to others.
But when we look to a bunch of other people who have the same limitations on their knowledge and experience we do, we simply multiply the same problem we have with our looking to ourselves for truth.
Zero X 100 is the same result as zero X 1. Zero.
C. We can look to God.
God is the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, originator of the universe. That’s quite an impressive resume. It sounds like He might be a good source to ask for truth to live by.
We can live life according to our rationalization or according to God's revelation. And where do find His revelation of how to live? It is found in His Word and in His Son.