How faithful are we at following the Lord, and doing what we know is right?
It's easy when there's no opposition, but what if the pressure is built up? What if outright opposition or even 'persecution' begins?
What do we do then?
Reading Daniel Chapter 6 challenges me at this point.
Daniel has been through a lot in his life--the overthrow of his country, forced exile, unfair treatment...but he has always remained faithful to the Lord, God of Israel. Consequently, God has blessed him and caused him to prosper under a variety of rulers. He always seems to 'rise to the top'. All along the way, he always makes sure to 'give his all', being faithful to give his very best work, no matter who the ruler is over him. As a result, those rulers raise him up also!
Until a new king with some new 'rulers' comes in...that's when the going gets really tough.
King Darius, of the Medo-Persian empire, overthrows Balshazzar of Babylon. He establishes his own rulers, princes, etc., but he retains at least Daniel as one of the rulers. Daniel continues to excel in his work, so he is raised up and promoted. This does not go over well with the other administrators and high officers, so they try to find grounds to get him into trouble.
From this chapter, we can learn different lessons, depending on who we pay attention to. We can learn from Daniel, we can learn from the King, and we can learn from the co-administrators to Daniel.
Looking at lessons to learn from Daniel, it's easy to see the lessons:
Keep your integrity; Stay faithful to God!
The other administrators try to trap Daniel in his work. They assume he'll cut corners, be open to bribes, etc. They think they can trap him in some corruption and get him removed, but as hard as they search, they can't!
"Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy." (Daniel 6:4)
Daniel showed integrity in all his works. He was not a politician, but rather a servant of God. Consequently, he was not open to bribes, corruption, etc. (Yes, it is possible to remain true to the Lord while in a high position!)
In fact, try as they might, Daniel's enemies can't find anything against him.
They finally are left with one conclusion: "So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.” (Daniel 6:5)
Can you imagine that?
A leader who's enemies can only find fault against him in his relationship with God?!
How refreshing that would be!
So, what do they do?
They turn his devotion to his God into a problem.
They go to the king with a proposal...
“Long live King Darius! We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.” (Daniel 6:6-9)
Daniel's enemies set him up! And they use Darius' ego against him!
They butter Darius up, feed his desire to be 'over' everything, and suck him right into their evil plan...he goes along with it, and signs the decree.
Daniel's response is classic, and something for us to learn from:
"But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God." (Daniel 6:10)
Daniel carried on with his prayers and devotion to the Lord, God of Israel. His faithfulness was not effected by opposition. He knew that the only reason he had risen to high positions in these governments was because God was with him, and he was not going to stop being faithful to God!
When opposition arises in our world, what do we do?
Do we crumble, give in, and go along?
Do we shrink back, trying to remain unnoticed?
Do we make a big production out of our opposition? or
Do we remain faithful to God, doing what we've always done?
Daniel chose the last course of action, and God protected him through it...but not without Daniel paying a price and enduring some serious consequences!
More on that next time, in the meantime, BE FAITHFUL! Keep Doing What You Do, no matter the opposition, no matter the cost!
He will never let you go!