Summary: Here are some self-help principles for overcoming feelings of inadequacy from Daniel chapter five.
What makes people behave badly?
We partially answered that question last week in the sermon, "Putting an End to Self-defeating Behavior" based on Daniel chapter four, but the Word of God is going to expand our understanding this week.
The Bible gives us an example of some very bad behavior here in Daniel chapter five.
Belshazzer, adopted son and co-ruler of Babylon with his father Nabonidus, throws a wild party in which drunkenness and debauchery were so wanton that the participants give glory to false gods while drinking from the very vessels once used in worship of Jehovah. This wasn’t entertainment - it was like spitting in God’s face.
Meanwhile, outside the city walls, the Persian king Cyrus is laying siege to the capitol. History records that by this time Nabonidus had already been captured and the surrounding countryside already overtaken by the enemy.
How could a king and his associates be so callous and blasphemous in their behavior in light of their serious situation? The enemy is outside the city walls threatening entry, and they are inside partying and pretending the danger does not exist.
Now they might have been overconfident. The city of ancient Babylon was well fortified. Situated about fifty miles south of the modern city of Baghdad, archeologists have discovered the wall around Babylon was 85 feet thick and 11 miles long. It is estimated that given normal circumstances the city could have remained impregnable for years.
Had it not been for the judgment of God and the cunning of the Persians the city may have stood for some time. But Cyrus cleverly diverted the waters of the Euphrates River from under the city wall and sent his army via the riverbed to capture the capitol.
So perhaps they were indeed partying out of a false sense of security. Or maybe they were even throwing their big party in honor of their false gods, hoping to gain their favor and bring rescue from the enemy. Which, of course, was futile since the only place these gods existed was in their imagination.
There is yet another plausible explanation for the bad behavior of these bad boys and girls in the Capitol City. It can be derived from the message of God Himself. The handwriting on the wall indicates a serious deficiency in the life of the king and his associates that contributed to their sin.
Behind many types of misbehavior is something we might not think about at first glance - the feeling of inadequacy.
People who sense that they are inadequate often behave badly. Their bad behavior can be self-destructive or it can be directed at others, but when we don’t feel so good about ourselves we often talk and act improperly.
The entire list of behavior sometimes rooted in feelings of inadequacy would be rather long, so here’s just a sampling to give you and idea of what we’re up against.
a. Addictions - Feelings of inadequacy often contribute to alcohol and drug addiction but the list doesn’t stop there. Consider this list of "Common Addictions of the 21st Century" from Relax-and-Heal.com.
CHAT ROOMS are fun for teens and adults who love to communicate, perhaps anonymously, in real time. When your teenager or spouse spends four to five hours a day (or night) corresponding in chat rooms accessed through the Internet, the "hobby" has probably become an addiction.
CYBER SEX is a new phenomenon closely related to phone sex. Access to porn sites on the Internet is much easier, cheaper and more private than phone sex, so its addictive potential is enormous. Internet sex is more stimulating as it offers images, video and audio as well as lengthy menus of choices.
WORK seems to be the drug of choice for many people caught up in the Information Revolution. While hard work is the secret of success for many, working to excess is probably a sign of low self-esteem, poor relationships with spouses and families and/or a faulty self-image.
STOCK MARKET addictions were hardly a worry when reports were available only in the daily newspaper. Stock market addicts can now check their financial portfolio minute by minute through the Internet. Like workaholics, people who obsess over their financial standing are probably victims of their own insecurities and low self-confidence.
MONEY addictions keep people awake at night. And the obsession with having more money is not restricted to people who have very little of it. When your feelings of self-worth are a function of your bank balance and stock portfolio, you have joined a game in which you can only lose. Winning a lottery will not make you Bill Gates.
MATERIALISM is closely related to the money addiction, except that your self-image now hangs on your possessions rather than your bank balance. It’s "keeping up with the Joneses" taken to extremes.