As a child, Daniel was exceptional. He was amongst the brightest and finest of his day. His talents were recognized and targeted for reeducation and promotion by those in charge of leadership development in the kingdom of Babylon. As a man, he proved worthy of their efforts. He was knowledgeable, wise, and faithful. Kings came and kings went, but all of them desired Daniel in their court. He was one who was beneficial to his neighbors. He was one honoring and glorifying to his Father in heaven. However, despite his strong character and performance, he was not appreciated by all. To some he was an obstacle on their corporate ladder; they needed to get rid of him. But this was not so easy. In the sixth chapter of Daniel, the following is recorded:
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:1-5)
In searching for character flaws or ethical misconduct, they were without luck. They fully vetted this Christian politician, but they could find no “ground for complaint, fault, or error.” He was not sinless before God, but he was blameless before men. Therefore, if they were going to engage in a smear campaign, it would have to be slander and not gossip. False testimony would have to be given. Somehow they would have to make charges out of his worship for anything to stick.
In the Gospels, the same is true of Jesus. He too was exceptional as a lad. As a youth, he grew in wisdom, stature, favor with man, and favor with God. As a man, Jesus excelled in love for neighbor and love for God. His record was solid; never had there been one like him so outstanding in intellect, affection, communication, and conduct. However, despite his pristine character, he was despised by many who saw him as a hurdle in the way of promotion. They wanted him dead. However, in order to achieve this end under Roman rule, they had to bring formal charges against him. Therefore, the private investigators and spin-doctors went to work. They investigated Jesus public and private dealings. In short, Mark reports:
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him …. (Mark 14:55-57)
They interviewed present and past associates. They looked in every file cabinet, under every stone, on every internet server. Surreptitiously they follow him everywhere he went. They fully vetted him, and what was the result? They could find nothing. Like Daniel, they determined they would have to fabricate tales in order to rid themselves of him.
If we were in Jerusalem, in the early days of the church, would we be considered to support the Apostles in their ministry?
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:3-4)
If they interviewed our wife, children, and closest associates — in private and anonymously — before God, would they vouch for our character?
In Ephesus, if Timothy and the fellows vetted us for the offices of elder and deacon, would they nominate our names for possible service?
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable …. (1 Timothy 3:2)
Friends, we cannot be exactly like Jesus, but we can be like Daniel, like the saints in Jerusalem, and like the brothers in Ephesus. We cannot be perfect and sinless, but we can be transparent and reputable, and we can start again today.
First, let us vet ourselves against the Law of God. Let’s do it daily and deeply. Let the light of God’s Word shine on our:
Let it burn, and let it sear, for under its gaze no one will be found holy and righteous. When we honestly evaluate ourselves under the Law from God’s perspective, too much sin abounds. We are all found wanting in the righteousness department.
Then, let us hit our knees and treat our sin with the Gospel. Let us remember the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Let us mourn with him, then let us rejoice that he is risen from the grave and our sin-debt is far removed. In God’s eyes we are still saints. We always will be. What a wonderful savior we have!
Following this, let us commune with the Lord in prayer — more and more. In prayer let us meditate on the precepts of God. Let us call Satan’s bluff. Let us starve the old man. Let us put off the flesh and walk in the Spirit. Let us not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. When necessary, let us flee from the heavy temptation that falls upon us. Throughout the day, everyday, all day, and at special times in the day, commune with the Lord in prayer and request additional grace to walk worthy of Christ’s name. This is a prayer according to his will. This is a prayer he will answer in the affirmative.
As you sin, confess your transgressions to the offended and to those who are your brothers and sisters. Do this for the purpose of reconciliation. Also do it as a means of brotherly accountability. It is good for the aggrieved to know you are penitent. It is good for your brothers to share your sin-struggles with you.
If you do this, day after day after day, month after month, you will have a reputation. You will be known as an imperfect sinner. You will be known as one who struggles with the old nature. You will be known as one in debt to grace. You will be one growing in grace. You will also be known as one who is transparent, humble, and reputable.
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