Many people are looking at all the trouble erupting around the world and asking, What kind of leaders do we need at this point in history?
That’s an important question. As believers, every one of us needs to hear from God about it. If we haven’t already, in the coming months we need to find out who He wants in office and how He wants us to vote. But there’s also another big question we need to be seeking Him about right now. One that’s just as vital.
As we see believers, both in this country and abroad, facing increasing pressure to back off from their faith—to be quiet about it and keep it out of sight where it won’t bother anyone—we need to be asking: What kind of Christians do we need to be at this point in history?
Obviously, the Bible has a great deal to say about that. But recently I was particularly reminded of one specific passage in the Old Testament. It speaks very directly to the issues we’re facing today. It tells about a man of God who lived his faith boldly in the midst of a heathen culture, even when that boldness threatened to cost him his very life.
I’m sure you remember the story. It’s the one about Daniel getting thrown into the lions’ den. It’s recorded in Daniel 6 and it begins like this: “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes…and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm” (verses 1-3).
Right there in the very beginning of the story, we find the answer to the question, What kind of believers do we need to be right now?
We need to be people who are known for having an excellent spirit!
That’s what Daniel was known for and it made him a light in a dark nation. It caused him to be trusted and promoted into a position of great influence and authority. It caught people’s attention and made him an unstoppable force for the kingdom of God.
As believers, you and I have the same kind of spirit. As joint heirs with Jesus, we’ve been given His “more excellent name” (Hebrews 1:4). We’re co-laborers in His “more excellent ministry” (Hebrews 8:6) and partakers of His “excellent glory”
(2 Peter 1:17).
How exactly are we supposed to express that excellence?
Read what the next few verses say about Daniel and you’ll see. They tell us that after his promotion, the other members of the king’s administration got jealous and tried to catch him doing something wrong so they could report it to the king. But they ran into a major problem: “They could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God” (Daniel 6:4-5).
Think about that. Daniel’s enemies couldn’t trip him up because he was too faithful! Because of his excellent spirit, no matter what anyone else was doing, in every situation, he faithfully believed and obeyed God.
If we’re going to live in excellence today that’s what we’ll do, too. We’ll be faith-filled and faithful. Regardless of the cultural conditions, threats or pressures that might be present, we will never compromise when it comes to believing and acting on The WORD of God.
No Matter What It Costs
“But Brother Copeland, you don’t understand my situation. I have to compromise a little now and then. I’m a leader in my field. I hold a high position in my company. If I’m bold about my faith and don’t go along with the crowd, there’s no telling what it might cost me.”
It doesn’t matter what it costs. Nothing in your life, nothing in my life, is worth compromising our LORD and Savior. Being faithful to Him is our highest call and greatest honor; and compromising is always a mistake.
That’s something I learned many years ago working alongside my father in the faith, Brother Oral Roberts. I heard him talk about spiritual excellence and faithfulness many times. One thing he often said about it still burns in me like a hot iron.
“What you compromise to keep, you will eventually lose.”
That’s a spiritual law. It’s absolute fact. Its reciprocal is also true: If you stay connected to God by faith in His WORD and refuse to compromise, He’ll see to it you come out a winner every time—and He’ll do it under the most impossible circumstances.
Look at what happened next in the story of Daniel and you’ll see what I mean. His enemies actually conspired to use his uncompromising faith against him. They went to the king and said: “[We] have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not” (verses 7-8).
King Darius granted their request. He signed the decree and put a law into effect that, for 30 days, turned Daniel’s prayer life into a death sentence.
How did Daniel respond?
When he knew the law had been signed, “he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (verse 10).
Daniel wasn’t moved by the threats at all! He kept praying just like always—and he didn’t try to keep his prayers a secret. He didn’t pull his curtains and close his shutters. He kept them open so anyone who wanted could hear him.
It’s easy to imagine how people around him must have reacted. They probably pulled him aside and said, “Hey, lighten up a little here, man! You don’t want to get thrown into the lions’ den. You’re having a powerful impact on this nation. You’re making things better. You’ve got the ear of the king. If you keep praying like this, you’re going to lose your whole ministry. Just shut the windows! What does that hurt? God doesn’t need an open window to hear you.”
“Well,” you might say, “that last part is actually true, isn’t it? God doesn’t need an open window to hear someone’s prayers.”
He did in this case because if Daniel had closed the windows, he would have been doing it in fear and that would have changed everything. Fear shuts down faith; and faith is what keeps us connected with God.
Watch Out for This Phrase
Right now the kind of pressure Daniel faced is rising up again. Right here in America, Christians are being threatened and pushed to hide their faith behind closed doors. We’re essentially being told to draw the curtains and close the shutters on what we believe, while at the same time we’re being assured by politicians and government officials that our “freedom of worship” is still intact.
Freedom of worship.
That phrase sounds a lot like the phrase “freedom of religion” that describes what’s guaranteed in the Constitution. But it’s not the same thing. There’s a significant difference between the two.
Freedom of worship is being used right now as a way of saying, “You can worship however you want in your own house, or car, or church. But don’t be carrying that Bible to work with you. Don’t be talking about Jesus in the break room. If you start practicing your faith out in public where other people hear you and get offended, it’s going to cost you, because they don’t need to hear what you believe.”
Granted, no one in America is threatening to throw Christians in a lions’ den at this point. They’re just trying to get us out of the public square and out of the way. But I’ve made my decision; I’m not getting out of the way! I’m not going to compromise my walk with God!
“Brother Copeland, have people actually pressured you to do that?”
Oh, yes. Many times. Some years ago I was even pressured by a member of the United States Senate. He came after me wanting access to private information about the Partners of this ministry that by law is confidential. I wouldn’t give in to his demands because I made a promise to The LORD and to my Partners many years ago, that I’d never give anyone a list of their names or reveal the details of their giving.
He tried to force me into it by suggesting we had something to hide and making us look bad. Then he started legal proceedings against us. We ended up having to spend over a million dollars just to defend ourselves. The negative publicity was supposed to put the squeeze on us by bringing our ministry income down. But it didn’t work. Our ministry income didn’t go down.
“Well, they have a right to subpoena you,” someone warned me.
“So?” I said. “Let them do it.”
“What if they throw you in jail?”
I answered that question publicly from the pulpit. “I gave my word to my Partners and to The LORD about this,” I said, “and I’m not compromising on it. If the government wants to put me in jail, fine. I preach in prisons now, so I’ll know what to do there.”
A few well-meaning people came to me and encouraged me to go ahead and provide the information. “It won’t hurt anything,” they said. “The government won’t misuse it.” But I just kept repeating the same reply. “I don’t care what they plan to do with it, I’m not giving it to them. I gave my word that it’s not going to happen.”
You’re Not Standing Alone
As it turned out, of course, The LORD took care of me in that situation. He protected this ministry and everything turned out fine. What’s more, instead of being threatened and intimidated by the experience, the pressure that was put on me ended up making me bolder.
That’s how it always is. If you stay in faith and stand on The WORD, you get to where you enjoy not compromising. The joy of The LORD comes up on the inside of you and that’s your strength!
The best way I know to describe it is to compare it to something I experienced one time when I was a little boy. I was traveling with my father on one of his frequent business trips and we stopped for the night in a hotel. While he was checking in at the desk in the lobby, I wandered into a side room where some men were playing shuffleboard and I made the mistake of touching the board.
Talk about a threatening and intimidating experience!
When I put my finger on that board, one of the men absolutely blasted me. He called me names and chewed me out. But while he was yelling at me, my father walked in. He put his big hand on my shoulder, pushed me behind him and in his big, booming voice he said, “You want to talk to this boy, you talk to me! You understand that?”
The man looked at him like a deer in headlights. “I didn’t mean anything by it,” he mumbled.
“Then you shouldn’t have said anything!” my dad replied.
With that, the room fell silent and everyone stood frozen, waiting to see what my dad was going to do next. They had reason for concern because my dad was no small man…and standing behind him I felt pretty big myself. I felt like saying, “Come on, Daddy! We can handle this! We can do this thing!”
Nothing happened, of course. He just said, “Let’s go, boy.” Then we turned our backs, walked out and went to our hotel room. The minute he shut the door, he said, “Kenneth, from now on, keep your hands to yourself! You understand?”
That kind of took the wind out of my sails, but there for a little while I was riding high. I was more than a conqueror because I was standing behind my daddy.
As believers, we’re in the same position when we stand by faith on The WORD of God and refuse to compromise. We’re more than conquerors because we’re not standing alone. We’re standing behind Jesus. We’re saying, “We’ve got this, LORD! We can win this fight hands down!”
That’s the attitude Daniel had. By the time he got to that lions’ den, it was no big deal to him. He was so fearless and full of faith that, instead of dining on him, the lions had to wait until later when they could dine on his enemies. “So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God” (verse 23).
Points to Get You There: No Compromise
What you compromise to keep, you’ll eventually end up losing. Be faithful to God’s WORD and don’t compromise.
- Follow the example of Daniel, who lived his faith boldly in the midst of a heathen nation.
- As a joint heir with Jesus and part of His ministry, you have an excellent spirit, too.
- An excellent spirit is faithful to do what God says in every situation just as Daniel did.
- As you stand on The WORD and refuse to compromise, instead of getting weaker under pressure, you get bolder in your walk with God.
- Stay connected to God by faith and even in the most impossible situations He’ll make you a winner every time.
*This article taken from November 2015 issue of BVOV Magazine. Read the PDF version here.