As a much younger man, I absolutely loved goofy action movies. You know the ones I’m talking about. The kinds of movies that made Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Chuck Norris and so many other actors (I use the term loosely) household names from the 80s—cheesy one-liners, ridiculous scenarios, a barely coherent plot, lots of action and absolutely fearless heroes.
Interestingly, the Bible has a lot of characters kind of like that (of varying degrees of moral dubiousness). Joshua, Samson and a number of the Judges, Samuel (more or less)… It’s funny, though, that some of the boldest men in Scripture are found the book of Daniel.
Gutsy, Grace-Filled Boldness
I’m consistently amazed by the boldness Daniel and his friends exhibited. These guys were seemingly fearless. For example, in Daniel 3, 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” (Dan. 3:5,7), lest they be thrown into the fiery furnace (Dan 3:6).
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 (Dan 3:16-18).
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 (Dan. 6:7).
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 (Dan. 6:10).
Daniel worships God even when it’s been made illegal to do so—and even though it would probably cost him his life.
That is 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.
Gutsy, But Sometimes Costly
One of the most difficult challenges we face is the temptation to compromise on the wrong things. It’s not that compromise is always sinful—sometimes compromise really is the most morally acceptable and God-glorifying thing we can do. But that’s when the issue is not one of primary importance.
When we see a coworker seriously mistreated at our workplace. When we need to tell the truth about the hard doctrines of the faith, such as sin, Hell and the need for holiness. When we need to hold one another accountable and lovingly call each other to repentance when we sin. When we need the wisdom to hold our tongues rather than answer mockers and scoffers.
This is when we need the same gutsy, grace-filled boldness that Daniel and so many others in the Scriptures and throughout history had. A boldness that allows us to endure the cost of doing what’s right, whether it’s losing our jobs, ending a relationship, or having to endure our reputation being marred and character questioned.
It’s a boldness that allows us to endure the worst, confident that God will deliver us whether in this life or on the Last Day, and the promise of future glory is worth more than all the pain this world can offer (cf. Rom. 8:18-28).
Do you have that kind of gutsy, grace-filled boldness?
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did. So did all the Prophets and Apostles. So did Jesus.
And so do you, if you are in Christ. The question is, do you believe it?
An earlier version of this post was published in June 2009.