Summary: In this sermon Daniel displayed some rare and remarkable virtues. These are personal integrity, steadfast faithfulness, and authentic spirituality.
Today I would like to continue in my sermon series in the book of Daniel. Please listen as I read Daniel 6:1-16a:
1 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
6 So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. 8 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”
The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”
13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.
15 Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, “Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”
16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. (Daniel 6:1-16a)
In every sphere of our culture—business, government, sports, education and religion—we face an integrity crisis. Long-accepted ethical codes of conduct are giving way to the short-term pragmatics of ambition, profit, and pleasure.
What scares me the most about all of this is that a lack of integrity no longer shocks people anymore. Ethical compromise is no longer reprehensible, but is actually gaining acceptability.
Listening to some business people today, it’s easy to get the impression that the recent legal convictions of some corporate giants resulted more from a lack of savvy than a lack of ethics.
The loss of an ethical consensus is evident now at every level of society, not just among the corporate giants.
Some time ago the Dallas Times Herald reported that while on his way to school one day, a young boy found two large canvas sacks lying in the street. When he looked inside he was amazed to find that the sacks were full of money—$415,000 in fact! When he returned the money to the Princeton Armored Service, he received a reward of $1,000 and got his story in the paper. But the young boy was very unhappy about it all. In his interview he said he had expected a larger reward.
“I don’t understand it,” he complained. “If I had to do it over again, I’d probably keep the money.”
I read a story recently about a pastor who preached a sermon on honesty one Sunday morning. The next day he took the bus to get to his office. After he paid the fare, he realized that the bus driver had given him back way too much change.