Daniel 6:3–5, 10–13, 16, 19–23, 25–27comment (0)
June 8, 2006
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh
Related Scripture: Daniel 6:3–5, 10–13, 16, 19–23, 25–27
Family Bible Study
Professor of Religion, Chair of Department of Religion, Samford University
Daniel: Faith Refuses to Compromise
Daniel 6:3–5, 10–13, 16, 19–23, 25–27
Craig Gay, in a book that analyzes “The Way of the (Modern) World,” suggests that the essence of worldliness is not to be found in personal morality but rather to “go about our daily business in the world without giving much thought to God.” As such, the secularism of our society has led to the “eclipse of God” within our lives and we are more interested in the momentary illusion of personal well-being, of success than a hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness.
One of the great dangers of living in a secular world is to allow the overt and subtle pressures of life to pressurize us into compromising our faith, either by remaining silent about our faith or failing to stand up for what is right.
The story of Daniel, so well known from childhood, continues to challenge the Christian church to be faithful in its refusal to compromise. Daniel, like Joseph before him, found himself living and working in a foreign environment, rising to a position of responsibility in the economic and political world of his day. Daniel must have worked hard at learning a new language, adapting to the customs and culture of Babylon, becoming familiar with new skills in managing people so that he used all his abilities to work well and be a witness for God in the workplace.
The integrity of his life and his abilities set him apart from other people and even those who felt jealousy toward him recognized that he lived an exemplary life. Daniel was suddenly faced with a choice. Be silent, pray inwardly, cover up the distinctiveness of his faith and survive in Babylon. Faced with this temptation, he turned to God in prayer. The very act of prayer, however, became the means by which his enemies tripped him up and brought him before the king.
As Daniel was taken and placed in prison and prepared to be thrown into the den of lions, he was probably taunted by the evil one with the question as to why God had apparently abandoned him even though he did not compromise his faith. It’s a test of faith we all face. Why is it that a Christian loses his or her employment because he or she won’t tell a lie for the company? Why am I shunned by others because I seek to maintain a life of purity and integrity and find that I am overlooked for a promotion?
Yet even in prison, Daniel acted with a quiet dignity and a sense of resolve. He could have plunged himself into feelings of self-pity, but instead he remained faithful to God. Faith is very fragile. In times of crisis, we often conclude that God has abandoned us. For many Christians, the first great surprise of the Christian life is in the form of troubles that trip us up — we had expected it to be so different. Yet the darker moments of life are not times from which God is absent for He enters into the confusion and mystery of life, working out His purposes. Through it all, Daniel became a better and ever better man all his days, more trustworthy and a more trusted and consulted man. He expressed a simple and a sincere piety and praise of God.
Daniel took the opportunity to witness to his faith and expressed his confidence that God had sent “his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” His greatest concern was not for his personal safety but for his integrity — before God and before his fellow human being.
The outcome of his witness is one of celebration of God’s goodness and grace toward him as well as a demonstration to the world that God is a reality, One to be honored and loved before all others. Even the king is drawn into some kind of experience of God when he declares that “the God of Daniel … is the living God, enduring for ever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.” We can never tell what an impact a simple life of faith can have on other people, our family, our neighbors, our fellow workers, the civic community in which we live and even upon those in positions of political power. It is not only in the things that we say but the life that we live that God is able to use as a means of blessing to others.