PROGRAM W-1779 – Part II
We’ve explored some of the realities of Daniel’s life as a brilliant young man who was taken into exile and forced to work for a pagan king. He did so with excellence, with a right attitude, and without compromise. I’ve highlighted five specific examples of how Daniel stood true to his godly principles. There are three more principles I’d like to share with you which we can learn from the life of Daniel.
Daniel never compromised his standards and convictions.
When faced with a choice of abandoning his practice of praying three times a day to his God or being forced to pray to King Darius, he chose the lion’s den. Keep in mind that when he stood fast by his convictions, he had not read Daniel chapter 6, which tells how God shut the lion’s mouths and they did him no harm. He entered that lion’s den fully aware that he could be supper for some very hungry lions. What a terribly slow death that would be. But Daniel stood firm. He was willing to lose more than his prestigious job; he was willing to lose his life!
Notice that he accepted the pagan name he was given—Belteshazzar—but he refused to worship another god. They could call him anything they wanted to because that didn’t change anything. But when he was asked to compromise by worshiping another god, he drew the line.
Do you know when and how to “draw the line”? Are there times when you should just put up with something you don’t like so that, when you need to stand firm, it has more impact? Pick your fights, someone has said—that is good advice for us all. Make up your mind that you will not compromise the principles of God which are true and steadfast.
For example, recently someone asked me for a scripture which says we should not put tatoos on our bodies because she wanted to share it with a non-believer and warn her about getting more tatoos. I suggested that this may not be a fight she wants to wage with unbelievers. Tatoos do not affect or reflect a person’s heart, and so it’s not an issue you want to tackle with an unbeliever, in my opinion.
Daniel knew how to handle confrontations.
Daniel was no pushover. He had a gentle spirit and a compassionate heart, but he was not afraid to stand up and “tell it like it is,” as we say. However, he confronted people only when needed and with great wisdom.
When he “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way (Daniel 1:8),” he didn’t go storming in saying, “Listen here! I can’t eat this pagan food. I’m an Israelite and we don’t eat that junk. So, take your food and shove it!”
Rather, he confronted with an alternative suggestion. He recognized that he was putting the chief official in a difficult spot, so he came up with a plan. He proposed that he be given a chance to prove that when they ate their food, they would be stronger and look better than those who ate the king’s food.
When he interceded to Arioch to prevent the killing of the wise men, he offered an alternative: “Take me to the king and I will interpret his dream for him” (Daniel 2:24).
When the satraps came up with their sinister plan to bring Daniel down by appealing to King Darius’ ego and urging him to issue a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man for the next thirty days, except to the king, would be thrown into the lions’ den, he made no grandstand appeal for fairness. He didn’t disparage the satraps that were out to get him; he didn’t try to do to them what they had done to him.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the wondows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thank to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)
He simply stayed true to his convictions and trusted God for the consequences. No griping, no badmouthing, no lawsuits; just keepin’ on keepin’ on being faithful to his God. Notice, also, that he got on his knees to give thanks to God—thankfulness in the midst of trouble! What a man!
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
When was the last time someone was out to get you because of your life of integrity, your work habits, or your strong testimony? Did you rejoice? The way we learn to rejoice in these situations is to fix our minds on the great reward that is awaiting us in heaven. Jesus said it would be a great reward. Wow! Can you envision receiving a great reward in heaven for being faithful to Jesus? Will it be worth it then to have endured ill-treatment patiently and selflessly? Absolutely!
Daniel’s testimony for his God was powerful.
When Daniel interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, this was the king’s response:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and pain him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him,. The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery. (Daniel 2:46-47)
When the satraps devised a way to get rid of Daniel, and Darius recognized he had been trapped by their scheme, this was his reaction:
When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. (Daniel 6:14)
When nothing could be done to save him, he said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (Daniel 6:16).
Finally, when God shut the mouth of the lions and King Darius discovered that Daniel was alive, he said the following:
I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions. (Daniel 6:26-27)
We aren’t told that Daniel ever had a Bible study on his job. We don’t know if he ever had an opportunity to “share” his testimony with his co-workers. But because serving and loving the true God was who Daniel was, it showed up in every part of his life. It couldn’t be missed, and it was recognized. King Darius noted that Daniel served his God continually. What a testimony!
Living by Christian principles in the marketplace gives you and me a great advantage because, not only are we living in obedience to Christ, which brings its own rewards, but we are establishing a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness that is often absent in others. Furthermore, Christian principles work!
There’s a book called The Power of Nice. It’s written by two women who own a successful advertising agency in New York. The thrust of the whole book is that you can conquer the business world with kindness. The inside flap reads as follows:
Turning the well-known adage of “Nice Guys Finish Last” on its ear, The Power of Nice shows that “nice” companies have lower employee turnover, lower recruitment costs, and higher productivity. Nice people live longer, are healthier, and make more money. In today’s interconnected world, companies and people with a reputation for cooperation and fair play forge the kind of relationships that lead to bigger and better opportunities, both in business and in life.
As I read through it, I noticed how many of their “Nice Cube” ideas were based on biblical principles. Look at these examples:
Nice must be automatic.
She tells the story of how a large account was lost because an executive was not “nice enough” to help a client with her luggage at the airport. The conclusion was that picking up the bag should have been second nature, a part of the way he treated everyone.
For a believer, “nice” should always be a natural reaction for us because we’ve been given a new nature, with new power (the Holy Spirit), and a new motivation. The fruit of the Spirit is all about being “nice.”
Help other people get their slice.
The authors point out that by helping others—even those who may appear to be your competition—you simply make the pie bigger and you are sowing seeds of “niceness” which will come back to you eventually.
Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain concent, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
As you go out to your job each day—even if it’s in a difficult environment with people who have no regard for the Lord Jesus or for God—remember Daniel. You have an opportunity to impact your world by your lifestyle, your hard work, your joyful spirit, and your concern for others. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have the same power that Daniel had—God’s Spirit alive in you, empowering you both to will and to do his pleasure in a fallen world. May we all be inspired to be more like Daniel.