Lacy Hardee

Webster’s says the word ‘integrity’ can be defined as “the steadfast and constant adherence to a moral or an ethical code.” It is “the state or quality that strives to be complete, free of the corrupting influences of improper motives or methods.” The thesaurus pairs integrity with such words as ‘honesty,’ ‘completeness,’ and ‘incorruptibility.’

Many times God’s Word speaks of Daniel and the most popular story being that of his time in the Lion’s den. As a child, we heard Bible stories, and the story of Daniel in the lions’ den was more than likely near the top of the list.

Pictures of Daniel lying down with the docile lions adorn the walls of many nurseries. For most, the focus of the story is Daniel’s miraculous deliverance.

But the real message has to do with Daniel’s conduct not while he was in the lions’ den but before he ever got there! It is a message about integrity: character does count, and God Himself honors integrity. The book of Daniel is filled with it.

It seems with each passing day we are sinking a little deeper into the quicksand of cultural collapse. In his book, “The Daniel Code,” O.S. Hawkins posed the question: “Are there those of us who, like Daniel, seek to live in the world but not of the world, and what is the single most important attribute we need as we strive to influence the culture in a positive and productive way?

“Some people quickly point to intellect. After all, they argue, knowledge is power in our world. The greater our intellectual edge over others, the better we can gain the upper hand.

“Others quickly say that it isn’t intellect as much as it is intensity, that passion accompanied by a spirit of conquest becomes contagious.

“Still others argue it is insight that is, good old common sense, the ability to see wisely into the issues, and discernment for addressing them.

“However, in the final analysis, the single most important attribute of those who make a lasting difference for good in a collapsing culture like our own is... integrity!”

Daniel was integrity illustrated, but it overshadowed intellect.

Daniel certainly had a high level of intellect. In Daniel 1:4 we read that he was “gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge.”

Daniel was a very intense person. He was the epitome of passion. “He purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” states Daniel 1:8.

As for insight, not only was he gifted in wisdom and knowledge; he was “quick to understand.” Says Daniel 1:4.

Daniel keenly discerned the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and described in detail the message of the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace.

However, it was Daniel’s personal integrity that truly set him apart from all others in the kingdom and enabled him to achieve such incredible success. The Bible says, “Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.”Daniel 6:3.

Daniel is Exhibit A that those who influence others and engage their culture for good are men and women of impeccable integrity. Our contemporary culture is desperately in need of men and women of integrity. Too many of our national leaders, on both sides of the political aisle, have failed miserably on this point. With increasing regularity, another gate swings open to reveal high-profile individuals living with little or no integrity.

No wonder our young people question if character really counts anymore. Our culture is crippled by a lack of integrity at every level of society. Sadly, there are religious leaders who score no better on the report card of personal integrity.

Even as I type these very words, I heard just today of another high-profile pastor who has resigned due to a lack of personal integrity.

Daniel proved that character really counts through the familiar story of Daniel in the lions’ den. We watch Daniel, time and again, impact the culture around him.

As Hawkins so eloquently put it, “He could have lived with resentment and joined the other exiles in hanging their harps on the willows and losing their song. But he rested in the fact that God was in control, that God Himself held the remote control in His own hand.

“Daniel knew that God also kept His finger on the thermostat when his three friends ended up in the fiery furnace. Daniel influenced a pagan culture primarily because he lived a life of integrity.

“You might have the highest intellect in the room, you might be moved and motivated by an intensity manifesting itself in contagious passion, you might have keen insight to cut through to the heart of the issues of life, but if you don’t live with integrity, you will join the many others on the ash heap of what might have been.

“Character does count, and those who influence their culture have one thing in common: like Daniel, they are men and women of integrity. Integrity is your most valuable attribute. Don’t leave home without it.”

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