Recently I was reading through the book of Daniel; it was the first time I’d read through the whole thing since teaching through it a couple years back (and while it was less than stellar, it was the first book I didn’t completely butcher in small group).
When reading it this time around, I was struck by the boldness of Daniel and his friends.
Take chapter three for example. There, Nebuchadnezzar builds an idol and commands that all worship it whenever they hear “the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music” (v. 5,7), lest they be thrown into the fiery furnace (v.6). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, exiled Jews who are faithful to the God of Israel and have been appointed over the affairs of Babylon, refuse. Scheming Chaldeans, seeking their downfall, reported their refusal to Nebuchadnezzar, who in his fury commanded that these three be brought to him, and ordered them to worship his idol. If they fail to do so, he will throw them into the furnace.
Their response is amazing:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (v. 16-18).
In other words: “No. We worship Jesus, not a false god. He can save us from the furnace if He chooses; but if He’s decided we’re going to die today, then we die.”
In chapter six, we see another example of this same kind of boldness from Daniel himself. There, after his ego has been thoroughly stroked by conniving officials who are looking for some charge to bring against Daniel, Darius agrees to a proclamation that no one may make petition of any god or man but him for thirty days. Should they do so, they’ll be cast into the den of lions (v. 7).
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously (v. 10).
Daniel worships God even when it’s been made illegal to do so—and even though it would probably cost him his life.
That’s boldness, the kind that only comes from knowing the grace of God. And it’s a boldness, to be completely honest, that I don’t fully exercise, and I don’t know many who do.
How many of us sit back and do nothing when we see injustice in our workplaces? How many of us compromise on things that ought not be compromised on just to get along?
We see it all the time. We compromise from the pulpit when we won’t talk about sin, Hell, or holiness, nor will we call each other, lovingly, to repentance. We compromise denominationally when we either let our pet legalisms get in the way of godliness, or we start shunning primary doctrinal issues in favor of being “open and affirming.”
I think a lot of us use compromise as an excuse for cowardice. We don’t want to risk losing our jobs by doing what’s right. We don’t want to risk ending a friendship.
We don’t want to risk.
But with boldness, there is a cost. To do what’s right, it might mean we lose our jobs. It might mean hurting someone’s feelings. It might hurt our reputation.
So we have to ask ourselves, on matters of primary importance, is our comfort worth more than holiness?
Do we believe that God will deliver us?
If we stand in His grace confidently, should we not take a risk and speak boldly?
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.
Peter, John, Paul and all the Apostles did.
Imagine what would happen if we did the same.