Okay, so I’m going to get right to it. In my last few blog posts, I’ve been talking about my favorite Biblical hero, Daniel and what he can teach us about being people of character. If you didn’t read my previous blog, Holding Out for a Hero, Part 1, click here. Go ahead and read it and then come back. I’ll wait.
Back already? To recap, so far in Daniel’s story, we’ve learned that if we are going to be people of character:
- People are going to try and bring us down; and
- That we can’t hurt people, even unintentionally.
I promised at the end of the last post to show you how to become that kind of person who doesn’t hurt people, either purposefully or on accident and true to my word, here is the answer which lies in the following verses and gives us our third lesson on living with character:
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.”—Daniel 6:5
Lesson #3: The More We Know God the More our Character Grows
Daniel studied the word of God. The law of God was in his heart and his mind. It was so engrained in him that it had become part of his character. This is how he was known. So much so that the men who were trying to take him down knew that the only way to trap this guy was to trap him in his relationship with God.
If someone were trying to frame you, would this be what your enemies would say or would they use a different tact:
We will never find any basis for charges against this man unless…
- it has something to do with alcohol.
- it has something to do with his 2017 taxes.
- it has something to do with her credit card bill.
- it has something to do with his Internet search history.
- we look at her Netflix account.
I’ll stop there because the reality is we probably all have some area in our life that would give our enemies basis for charges against us. Why didn’t Daniel have any basis for charges? Because he was always pursuing God. He kept him near. Listen to these verses:
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”– Hebrews 10:22,23
We all have areas of our lives that need work. We all have areas that need to be forgiven. But when we draw near to God, he cleans us up. He forgives us. He gets us going in the right direction. Daniel was a person of flawless character because he consistently drew near to God.
Be a First Responder
Daniel was one of three administrators and the other two got tired of hearing about Daniel, so they came up with a plot to get him and they convince the king to issue a decree that anyone who prays will be thrown into the lions’ den. Do you know what Daniel did when he heard that? Well, exactly what you and I would do I’m sure; he went right out in front of his window and got down on his knees and prayed, right where all of Jerusalem could see him.
This is where it gets interesting for me. Anyone who prays will be thrown into the lions’ den, right? Have any of you been to the zoo lately to see the lions? I went yesterday. They are immense. The average male lion is 420 pounds and the average female is 280 pounds. Don’t forget the teeth. Their canines are 4 inches long. Like this:
The king kept a den of lions for this one purpose: Punishment. Daniel knew this. He may have avoided watching someone get thrown into the lions’ den, but there was no way he didn’t know what it was all about. He knew that with this new edict, he would most likely be the next victim. Despite that, praying is the first thing he does. Here is probably the most difficult lesson in character that any of us will have to learn:
Lesson#4) A Person of Character Does Not Stop Doing What’s Right When It Gets Hard
There were all kinds of work arounds that Daniel could have come up with:
- He could have prayed in his closet.
- He could have simply closed the blinds when he prayed.
- He could have prayed in his mind (I do that. I almost never get on my knees and pray. Usually just during budget meetings.)
- Daniel could have gone into hiding.
He could have done all of these things but he didn’t. His first reaction was to go out and pray. I know I’ve said this before but we need to be first responders. When life gets difficult our first response is typically to google an answer, Web MD, phone a friend, get a drink. Our first response needs to be like Daniel’s first response: Go before God. He really is the only one who can hold us up when life gets difficult.
How Does the Story End?
Life was about to get really difficult for Daniel:
“16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.”–Daniel 6:16,17
Daniel chose to be a person of character and this is where it landed him; face to face with one of life’s greatest dangers. Again, I have to be honest with you. There are times when choosing character can be scary:
- You find yourself in a difficult situation because of a mistake you made and it would be so much easier to lie. Just bend the truth a little because to tell the truth could be scary.
- You are struggling with your money and if you aren’t completely honest, it could pay off for you financially. But if you’re honest, it will cost you and right now your finances are scary.
- You’re talking with a friend and you’d much rather just stay on the surface. Or you could tell people what’s really going on in your life and with your family, but being vulnerable would be scary.
I know this is counterintuitive, but when it comes to character doing what is right even when it’s scary is the right thing to do. That’s when character really pays off. Look with me at how the story ends.
“19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” –-Daniel 6:16-23
Daniel could have been torn to shreds. He should have been eaten by wild beasts. But that’s not what happened. This is what I think it looked like in that lions’ den:
The Reward for Character
I found this video last week. This is Kevin Richardson from South Africa. I’m not sure how he’s pulled this off, but that is pretty cool. I just want to jump in there and give those lions a big scratch. There is so much joy to those images. So much peace. So much calm. Wouldn’t you like that kind of calm in your life? Wouldn’t you like that kind of peace in your lions’ den? I’m guessing there are all kinds of dens that people find themselves in today:
- Your lions den might be at work.
- Some of you might feel that way at home.
- You’re under attack from your kids or your spouse.
- Sometimes I feel that way about my finances. They are roaring and I just want them to calm down.
Our God is the God that can close the mouths of lions:
- He can close the mouths of critics.
- He can close the mouths of gossips.
- He can calm the hearts of roaring teenagers and angry spouses.
- He can take the bite out of debt and creditors.
All of this begins with character. Daniel gave us some great ways to have the depth of character we want. Character starts with getting closer to God. Committing yourself to knowing him. Coming to church. Worshipping in your car. Joining a small group. Character continues to grow inside us when we choose it even when life gets hard. When we choose character we will stop hurting people by accident.
Sure people will still take shots at us, but we will be the people we want to be. I believe if we do that God will shut the mouths of the lions roaring about us. God will bring us to a profound place of peace.