Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were wrongly accused, or someone spread false rumours about you?
A few years ago, as the result of a misunderstanding, I found myself being accused of something which wasn’t true.
It wasn’t until a third party said to me, “since I first met you, your character and ethics have been consistent, so I have no reason to doubt you now” that I realised the impact my character could have on others and the opinions they form about myself and my values.
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The Bible provides multiple examples of people who maintained their integrity regardless of the situations they were forced into. The following examples are found in the book of Daniel.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, as that action would violate God’s commandment in Exodus 20:3 (Daniel 3:1-18). Because they refused to compromise their morals and beliefs, they were put into a furnace and bound tightly so they could not escape the flames (Daniel 3:19-23). However, when Nebuchadnezzar and his soldiers checked the fire, they saw that three men were still alive and a there was a forth figure with them who looked “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-25 NKJV). When the three men stepped from the furnace unharmed, their uncompromised morals resulted in Nebuchadnezzar realising that their God did exist and was powerful (Daniel 3:26- 30).
Daniel similarly maintained his faith, despite it resulting in him being thrown into a lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-18). However, the next morning King Darius discovered that Daniel had miraculously survived the night (Daniel 6:19-24). Daniels unquestionable character led to King Darius believing in God and sending a message throughout his Persian kingdom about Him (Daniel 6: 25-28).
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These two historical recounts are great biblical examples of maintained integrity serving as a testament to others.
We often have strong morals to guide us through certain areas of life, such as how we conduct ourselves at work. However, we may also have areas where we don’t have any strong moral guidelines, such as in our personal lives.
What does it mean for you if you have a QUESTIONABLE character? Will these traits define how other people perceive you?
The bible provides two accounts of people who were perceived to have questionable characters. Both were tax collectors by trade, and their names were Matthew and Zacchaeus.
During this time of these accounts, the Romans heavily taxed all the nations which were under their control. As these finances supported pagan gods and a secular government, Jews opposed the taxes but were still forced to pay. Furthermore, tax collectors were Jews who had compromised their morals by deciding to work for the Romans; many were notorious for becoming rich by abusing their position to exhort more money from the Jews.
These factors resulted in tax collectors being known as some of the most disliked groups in Israel.
What links these two men, despite their occupation, is when Jesus entered their lives they each sought to know him better and their lives and aspirations naturally changed.
Matthew left behind a lucrative career when Jesus asked him to follow Him and become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13).
Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in his region who was notorious extortioner. However, after meeting Jesus, he pledged to give half of his wealth to the poor and return four times the amount of money he took back to the people he exhorted (Luke 19: 1-10).
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What these two men reveal is that Jesus wasn’t going to ignore them because of their questionable characters.
Despite their values and traits, Jesus still saw their worth and potential and He sought a relationship with them.
So, what does this mean for our lives now?
Whether we have an unquestionable character, a questionable character, or there are some aspects which we want to improve, we don’t have to rely on our own strength to make these changes.
Instead, we should seek a meaningful relationship with the real God who revealed a glimpse of his power when he saved Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Daniel. The same God who saw the potential in Matthew and Zacchaeus despite their dishonest traits.
By wholeheartedly seeking a relationship with God, our character and values can be transformed and renewed (Romans 12:2).
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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
– Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)