No Pain, No Gain. To Do or Not to Do?

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This morning, my reading is on Daniel 1 & 2.. quite a familiar story.

Daniel, a young captive from Jerusalem taken to Babylon to enter into King Nebuchadnezzar’s service after 3 years of training. Daniel refused to defile himself with the food of the foreign ruler because they were against the dietary requirements of his faith. He boldly asked the chief official taking care of them (he and his friends) for a different diet.

v. 9 says “Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel….
10 BUT the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

God moved the official to be kind to Daniel. How?
1) The official candidly told Daniel of his fear/concern – that if he disobeyed the king’s command and Daniel appeared malnourished afterwards because of the diet change, the king would kill him.
2) Despite this concern, the official agreed to Daniel’s suggestion to a test period of 10 days after which he could decide whether to agree to Daniel’s request. After 10 days, Daniel and his friends appeared healthier than all the rest who ate the king’s food.

I recently listened to a sermon by James Taylor IV, the great grandson of Hudson Taylor. He was born and raised in Taiwan. His sermon was in Chinese delivered to a church in Taiwan. One important truth (take-away and reminder) for me in his sermon (among many others): Sin is not just about ‘doing’ the things that we are not supposed to do. It is also about ‘not doing’ the things that we should do.

So my question this morning is: What if Daniel did not resolve to ask for a different diet (Daniel 1)? What if he did not bravely offer to ask the king for time so he could interpret the king’s dream – an impossible thing to do (see Daniel 2)? The king had a dream which he could not remember yet he wanted his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to interpret his dream. Daniel asked his friends to pray with him for God to reveal to him the king’s dream. God answered their prayers and revealed the dream to Daniel along with its interpretation.

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honour and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 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.”

More than all the material rewards of gifts, position and power that Daniel and his friends got (vv. 48-49), the ultimate significance of his courageous ‘doing’ what he should do is the king’s declaration: “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries…”

Imagine a powerful foreign king of the most powerful empire falling prostrate at your feet and praising your God!

If Daniel did not do what he should do, he would have missed the chance to make known his God to someone who needed to know God. What great repercussions that had in the history that followed! Daniel served under 4 foreign kings in his lifetime: 2 Babylonians and 2 Persians: 2 great empires in his time. Daniel had great influence on powerful rulers of the world in his time because of his first 2 acts of courage – doing what he should do!

It is hard to be prophets when no one wants to listen to what they have to say. Many prophets were persecuted and killed for prophesying words of doom, for doing the things God told them to do. Read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the list goes on. God even told a few that they were to speak His words even no one would listen. He told Ezekiel that he would be accountable for not warning the people if they died in their sins. (Eze. 3:16-21; 33:1-9).

It is often hard to do the things that I should do.. perhaps even harder than not doing the things that I should not do. I could avoid sinning doing nothing. It is easy not to lie. I can do so by saying nothing and doing nothing. But I am sinning if I did not tell the truth to someone who needs to know the truth.

I sin when I do not do as God commanded me to do. What is hard is doing things that will get me in trouble with people. It is especially hard to stand alone against the majority. Why bother when no one wants to listen? Let them be.

Apathy is also a sin. It is the state of not caring. It is just as wrong to be apathetic as it is to be hateful. To not love is as sinful as hating. If I do not love my neighbour, I am sinning as when I hate my enemy.

To do the thing that I should do, and do it wisely, I need God’s wisdom.

Lord, help me to do what you want me to do even when it is not easy. I cannot do it alone. Grant me wisdom and discernment what to do, how to do, where to do, when to do, to whom, for whom, with whom, so that at the end of all my doing, people will know Your Being: That you are the God of gods and Lord of kings who reveal mysteries to all men.. You show yourself and let yourself be known…surely and truly when we seek after you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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