Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
We’re in a series exploring five biblical principles for working in exile. Today, we come to our third principle, straight from Peter’s letter “to God’s elect, exiles” (1 Peter 1:1):
Principle #3: Christians are called to live “such good lives” that non-Christians have nothing credible to say against us.
Though he lived hundreds of years before Peter penned the words of today’s passage, Daniel (of lion’s den fame) offers a terrific case study of what this principle looks like in practice. Like you and me, Daniel worked in exile—specifically as an official inside the Babylonian government. And he modeled the goodness Peter describes in today’s passage on at least three levels.
First, vocational excellence. Daniel 6:3 tells us that Daniel “so distinguished himself” among his peers that King Darius “planned to set him over the whole kingdom” of Babylon. Daniel was a master of his craft. That’s the first dimension of the exemplary goodness he displayed while working in exile.
Here’s the second: personal integrity. When Daniel’s co-workers heard that their boss was planning to promote Daniel, they “tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel…but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy” (Daniel 6:4). Daniel didn’t just possess good technical skills. He possessed good and godly character.
The third dimension of Daniel’s goodness was his submission to authorities—even authorities who hated his God. After searching for “corruption” in Daniel and any act of disobedience to the Babylonian king, finally his peers gave up saying, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God” (Daniel 6:5).
Next week, we’ll explore that “unless it has something to do with the law of his God” caveat in depth. But today, here’s what I want to encourage you to do: Pretend that your co-workers, like Daniel’s, wanted to discredit you and your witness. How would they do it? What would they point to?
Would they point to the way you talk about others behind their backs? Or how much you drink when you’re out with your colleagues? Or the bit-too-friendly relationship you have with a co-worker of the opposite sex?
Whatever it is, repent for the sake of the gospel. “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong,” no accusation can stick.