There is always a challenge for the Believer in Jesus Christ as to how much they seek the applause of others versus the acknowledgement of God. There is certainly no hindrance for any person to pursue excellence. In fact, this is something for which we all should strive. However, the prayerful consideration that must be made is at what expense do we pursue one at the expense of the other?
The Sunday School images we have of Daniel must be wrong! These are the ones that show a virile young man resting easy in the lion’s den. Either these images are misleading or, there is something wrong with my calculations or, the dates are not meant to come together.
Let’s assume that Daniel was, at the age of 17, part of the initial captives that left Judah in 605 BC. Then let’s assume that the lion’s den episode (Daniel 6) occurred at the beginning of the rule of King Darius in 538 BC. That would make Daniel 84 years old when he got dropped into the den! At an age when many of us face a real challenge just get around at all, Daniel is still taking on significant trials for the sake of his faith!
Everything we read indicates that Daniel had delivered exceptional service in Babylon. Right from what is recorded in Daniel 1, the promise he showed resulted in promotions, responsibility and authority. More importantly, Daniel combined his astute public service with continuing loyal service to God. In fact, for 70 years Daniel had been true to his real King – the Lord of Heaven. His faithfulness was part of a godly lifestyle. His graciousness, his commitment to his friendships, his trustworthiness, and his disciplined prayer life all resulted in a wonderful reputation right through his life.
But above all else there was Daniel’s unswerving loyalty to God that was even prepared to see his own life put on the line. What an inspiration this must have been amongst his own people, and what an example this is still to us today for each one of us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to His person. The grace of His call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It transcends the difference between the law and the gospel. Christ calls, the disciple follows; that is grace and commandment in one” (The Cost of Discipleship).
Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.“
Let us be those who understand – and give ourselves to – the wonder of our called and directed relationship of faith in Jesus Christ. He will enable us in all things. And, apart from any wealth we may acquire in this life, this is a richness and a standing beyond any other.