Summary: How do you react when pressue comes to bear? Daniel gives us "life lessons" on how to deal with integrity with the trials that will come our way. The first in a series on integrity.
Integrity - Belief Under Pressure
West Glendale Baptist Church
Pastor Don Jones
The next four weeks we will be looking at the topic of integrity as found in the book of Daniel. Webster’s defines integrity as, "1.firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility 2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness." It is closely related to the word honesty. I defined it last week as doing what you say, and saying what you do. It is where word and deed are in agreement. It is sticking to your guns no matter what the circumstances. It sounds easy, but it’s not. What do you do when the pressure to change builds in your life?
Cue slide - The Problem - Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Pressure
Daniel found himself in a pressure situation. His life was in turmoil at every level. His emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being was being threatened by world events.
Physically, he had been taken away from his familiar surroundings by the conquering king. Uprooted from Jerusalem he was taken to Babylon as a slave to live out the rest of his life in service to king Nebuchadnezzar. Perhaps he was to be a well treated slave but a slave none the less.
Emotionally, he was in turmoil. I have said that my next move will be when they take my body from my house for burial. That’s how stressful moving is for me and I dare say, for most of us. Daniel was taken forcibly from his home to a foreign land in chains. We cannot imagine how he was feeling. The emotional stress from such an event would be overwhelming.
Spiritually, add to all of this seeing your place of worship sacked and in ruins. His place of worship was destroyed and its valuables taken as spoils back to Babylon. Verse 2 says,
"And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."
Imagine someone coming into our place of worship this morning and destroying, robbing, and possibly killing. Do you think we would be "stressed out" and our lives in turmoil?
The sin of the people of God had finally taken its’ toll. Judgment had come. After all the warning, God in His time, allowed His people to be conquered. But in the midst of the judgment and turmoil God had a divine plan for Daniel.
Cue slide - The Potential
Daniel was evidently a very talented individual. He had a great many assets in his favor. He had what we would call, potential. Evidently he was intelligent, good looking, and in great shape. Much like your pastor. (wait for laughter to die down) The court official was asked to fill an order for the king. Verse 4 says the court official was to bring the king,
"young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace."
Daniel was chosen for this prestigious position. I was going to be an easier life than an ordinary slave. He was to serve in the king’s court. It was a place of power and influence. What a great opportunity. But there was a snag. Daniel was being asked to fit in. He was to become for all intents and purposes a Babylonian. Verse 4b says,
"He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service."
Daniel was in a difficult, stressful situation that was going to test his faith and principles at a fundamental level. The Israelite was to change into a Babylonian. How was he to meet this challenge?
One way to deal with the pressures to our beliefs is to surrender. He could have sold out. Simply give up and bow to the peer pressure, circumstances, or whatever is compelling you to change your beliefs. Nobody would have blamed him, he was out of town. When in Rome...... I find many believers are willing to give in, compromise, or explain away the Word of God. It would have been easy for Daniel to go along with the program. With his gifts and talents he would have been successful in the kings court but not with the King.
Another way he could have handled it was to lie about what he was doing. Keep the court official and the king in the dark and do everything behind their back. No one would have been the wiser. Just eat and drink what you want in keeping with God’s law but pretend to be obedient. Fake everyone out. Perhaps this would have been a little more complicated but again, the easy way out as well as dishonest. It would not have honored God while trying to honor God. Many are willing to tell a little white lie as long as the circumstances warrant the lie. We like to put sin in order of degrees. Some sins are worse than others in our eyes. It’s ok to break the little ones but not the big ones. God does not desire selective obedience nor does He recognize degrees of sin.