[April 16]—Integrity Check

Daniel 6:1-5

            You know, with all the scandals of famous preachers over the last few decades, there’s one preacher who's stood out as a beacon of integrity. You might've guessed I’m talking about Billy Graham. He preached the Good News for 60 plus years, and he was committed to continuing as long as his health allowed. Apparently the only One who could cause him to retire was the Lord Jesus himself. Earth is certainly poorer due to his passing.  And in all those years, there’s never been even a whiff of a scandal. Journalists who are instinctively skeptical and even hostile towards Bible-believing preachers have investigated his finances with a fine-tooth comb, looking for anything that would make their careers, and they’ve come up with bubkes.
Why is that? What separated Billy Graham from all the other preachers who’ve made headlines in a bad way? I don’t think it’s just one thing. He certainly believed in accountability. His financial books were open for anyone to look at. He made it a strict policy never ever ever to be alone with a woman who’s not his wife or relative. But most importantly he lived with a strong sense of accountability before his Lord and Savior. I’m sure the very thought that he’d bring shame to the Name before the world was his greatest fear, but he also knows that there’s One he’ll have to give an account to someday, and that’s the only one who ultimately counts.
I thought of him as I read this story. Now of course we need to be careful in our wording here. All of us are sinners before God, and in an ultimate sense none of us deserve anything from him except judgment. But before people, it’s entirely possible to be classified as a “good” man or a “bad” man.
That brings up another question: How much should we value the moral evaluations of our enemies? Supposedly they’re not motivated by compassion towards us; by definition they’re not looking after our best interests. And naturally—as I mentioned before—ultimately the only One whose opinion of me matters is my Lord's. But I think it’s good to listen to what “the other side” is saying about us. Remember—as if I could let you forget for long!---that we’re all masters of self-deception. And the Holy Spirit might just be using someone who even hates us in order to identify a point of weakness for us.
But now we get to the main point I’d like to draw from this. This stands as a firm rebuke for me. Fortunately, most of us don’t have too many (human) enemies who really wish us ill or dead. But if I did. . . if I really had someone or a group of someones who wanted to bring me down, I really hope and pray that we’d see a repeat of today’s passage.
            Think about it. These men were insanely threatened and jealous by Daniel’s rise. They held nothing back in their hatred of him and in their willingness to do anything to bring him down. They examined his work, his personal life, his loyalties, friendships, etc. No doubt they spared no expense in digging up any “dirt” they could on him. If there was something that even could've been possibly misconstrued and exaggerated into a scandal, they would've latched onto it like a drowning man with a life preserver. If they could've just made something up with any credibility at all, they would have.
            And with all their efforts, they came up with. . . bubkes. “They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
            After all that effort, they came to the conclusion that “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
            My friend, I want to live such a life before men so that if I had enemies like Daniel did, they’d have to come to the same conclusion as these men.
            To me, this is a great matter for prayer. A lost world is watching, a world that’s looking for any excuse to dismiss the Message of Jesus. Let’s not give them one, shall we?

Lord Jesus, I remember that on a much greater scale, your enemies at your trial couldn’t come up with anything either. Seriously, I want to be more like you. By your grace.

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