I’ve been thinking a lot about something. I just read a book by Hyrum Smith titled The 3 Gaps. I won’t go into the entire book here because I’ll be posting a book summary at a later date – but the main theme of the book was focused on how we behave, what we do each day, that proves what we believe, what our governing values are, and how we spend our time. If you ask a group of people what they want to do with their life, a large percentage of them will say, “I want to make a positive difference.” It struck me that there are people in my life who have had a positive influence on me and I believe they are making a difference. In the final chapter of the 3 Gaps book, the author says, wisdom is “knowledge rightly applied” and he defines character as “doing what you say you are going to do”. This is the season of ‘new’ isn’t it? I don’t make resolutions, but I look back on 2015 to help me look forward to 2016 a little wiser and maybe even a little smarter.
Last week, in homework for a class I’m taking, one of the questions was, “Who are the people in our life who have had an influence on you? What do you admire about them and what do you want to emulate so you can make positive changes in your life?” I can think of a few, and one of them would be tapping me on the shoulder right now and saying, “Jane! You have to keep your Saturday commitment to yourself and to the Lord. so stop writing and start working!” OK, I get that. But let me share something I read in my quiet time this morning because it is the foundation of why I can name a few people who have influenced my life. I’ll tell you about them sometime. Today though, I will give you one word. Character. Daniel of the Bible isn’t one of the influencers of my life. Sheesh! Come on, I’m not that old. But Daniel is the model of upright, pure integrity and character. I occurred to me that Daniel didn’t derive his strong moral values and unwavering faith from reading self-help books – but if they had been around at the time, he could have written them himself. You know why? Because he knew that despite all the malevolence around him and the injustices brought against him, he knew that to get through the contentious situations in life, live above the deception and maintain his standing with God, he had to be in constant communication with Him.
As I read Daniel 6 this morning, I noticed at some time I had written in the margin of my Bible, “Be a person of excellence.” It was beside verse 4, …”he was trustworthy, and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Wow! How did he stay so perfect in such a defective world? Further into the chapter the message is obvious. Verse 10 “Daniel got down on his knees three times a day and talked to his God, thanking him.” In all that thanks, I have to believe that Daniel also asked for help to be strong. Daniel was up against insurmountable circumstances. He couldn’t hop the nearest commuter flight and get out of Babylon. He was captive and his only way to sustain his honorable character was through his relationship with almighty God.
Daniel could have caved, but he didn’t. He could have taken the bait and rationalized that God would surely forgive him if he would give in and bow to the king like everyone else. God had to understand the predicament he was in. Wouldn’t it be OK to blend in with everyone else? No! No! a thousand times no!
We don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We aren’t even sure what news will come to us in the next 5 minutes that could alter our course for the day, maybe for life. We do know that there is a thing called character. We don’t get it by thinking about it. We don’t get it by reading it in a book. We get character from practicing the principles of purity in thought, from our heart, and through action. We have to get the inside right; the rest will take care of itself. Dare to be a Daniel? I’m working on the inside. Want to join me?
Let’s be courageous and do the right things for the right reasons. We were made to be courageous. – Casting Crowns