Pastor Dominic Cardamone
When I read the story of the three Hebrew men (Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego) in Daniel chapter 3, two words come to mind: spiritual integrity. What I mean by spiritual integrity is that they had a firm faith in God and an adherence to the principles of the Scriptures. These men were faced with a challenge to their faith, and they exhibited tremendous spiritual integrity both in action and word. I think we can learn a few principles in this account that can help us have spiritual integrity today.
When we read Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar had made an idol and commanded everyone in his kingdom to bow down and worship it or be thrown into a fiery furnace. These three men stood while everyone else bowed to the idol. They had a physical position that projected a spiritual position too. They stood because it was the right thing to do. God told his people that they should have no other gods before Him, and these men courageously embraced God’s Word and obeyed it. All the other people in the account bowed because that was what everyone else was doing. They bowed because that is what the authority of that day threatened them into doing. Instead of doing the popular thing or doing something in a panic for fear of the consequences like the rest of the crowd, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego took a bold position. What about you and me? What position do we take around family and friends, in our communities, at work, etc.? Are we bold enough to take a stand on the principles of God’s Word even when it is countercultural and may even lead to uncomfortable consequences? If we desire to have spiritual integrity like these men, we must be willing to stand even if everyone else bows.
Nebuchadnezzar eventually catches wind of the fact that these men did not bow. As the Scriptures convey, when they were brought before him for examination, he gave them another chance to comply. Interestingly when this occurred, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego were prepared with a response for the king. They said, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” (See verse 16.) The word careful used here means to make ready. In other words, they were saying, “We don’t need time to answer you about this. We’ve already thought through it, studied, prayed, and made up our minds.” They had an answer prepared. I think the principle to learn here is that spiritual integrity is not simply coincidental but rather is a result of intentional cultivation through consistent preparation. When a spiritual challenge comes our way and we hope to exhibit spiritual integrity in that season, we will exhibit that for which we have been preparing (or the lack thereof). Do we desire spiritual integrity? Then we must faithfully prepare for when the challenge comes by studying our Bible, spending time in prayer, gaining wisdom through experience and counsel, etc.
As you read the rest of what the Hebrew men had to say to Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 3:17-18), we see tremendous confidence exude from their words. They were not afraid to own their convictions before the king! This confidence was rooted in their understanding of God. Where did they get this understanding about God? They got it from their time in preparation before this challenge to their faith came. That’s why preparation as described above is so important. It forms our understanding of God, His nature, His plan, etc. Notice the essence of their confidence. They were confident in God’s power and ability to protect them from a fiery furnace when they said, “He is able to deliver us.” They were confident in God’s grand plan for and desire toward them as His children even in the midst of danger when they said, “He will deliver us.” They were confident in God’s provision to enable them to stand when they said, “We will not serve thy gods.” They understood that it was God working in them “both to will and to do His good pleasure.” (See Philippians 2:13.) What’s the point? Gaining confidence in God breeds spiritual integrity. When we see the greatness and grace of God, we can have the confidence and strength to withstand challenges to our faith.
Many in this story and in life today would rather sin than suffer. However, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego had such spiritual integrity that they would rather suffer than sin. God rewarded them for it. Not only were they delivered, but they experienced the presence of God in a very powerful and unique way. He was with them in the midst of the fiery furnace. I dare say God still desires to display His presence in our lives in a unique way today as well. But do we have the spiritual integrity that these three Hebrew men had?