Summary: Daniel’s humility did not negate his ambition to do his very best to unconditionally love his captors so that he might point them to God the Father in heaven who is the source of all life.

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Source: “Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a godless Culture” by Larry Osborne

Daniel’s counterintuitive “responses to wicked leaders, evil coworkers, and a godless culture” of hope, humility and wisdom; were the keys to his living a holy life for 70 years in Babylon. Today’s sermon will focus on the second key, Daniel’s humility. Daniel’s hope gave him courage to live for God in a godless culture but it was his humility that truly gave him favor in the eyes of his captors. Courage without hope leads to martyrdom while humility without courage leads to spinelessness (Kindle, Loc 1427).

Humility is not just a forgotten character trait but one that is avoided by most people. Have you ever heard a dad say that he wanted his son or daughter to grow up and be humble? Rarely! For most people “humility” carries mostly negative connotations. Modern-day definitions equate humility with a person who has low-self esteem, a soft disposition, lack of ambition, or one who consciously minimizes or downplays all of one’s accomplishments” (Loc 1435). Humility often means to have self-deprecating thoughts such as “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough” or “nobody loves me!” The only time society feels a person should be humble is when one is trying to fill the enemy with a false sense of security right before one clobbers them into oblivion! This of course was far from Daniel’s definition of humility. Let’s look at Biblical humility and see why it was one of the keys to Daniel’s success for living a holy life in the godless culture, Babylon.

Biblical Humility has Nothing to do with low Self-esteem

Humility in the Bible has nothing to do with low self-esteem or excessive pride but everything to do with accurately assessing and acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses. While Jesus was humble enough to empty Himself and become a servant to all (Philippians 2:7), He also walked into Solomon’s Colonnade and claimed to be God (John 10:22-30)! Daniel was humble enough to accept having his name changed, being castrated and forced to learn the occult ways of the Chaldeans, and yet he described himself and his friends as “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:4, NIV). Christians show Biblical humility by remembering that since it was by grace that we were given our spiritual gifts, none of us should boast or put ourselves down but instead should use sober judgement to clearly assess the abilities we have received from God!

Biblical Humility Does Not Negate Ambition

Daniel and his friends were very ambitious. They studied hard and soon not only graduated at the top of their class but were placed in charge of all of Babylon’s wise men as well (Daniel 2:48). While ambition for self-gratification is wrong, wanting to fulfill your role in God’s kingdom is certainly not! When the sons of Zebedee asked to be promoted to the right and left side of Jesus they were not chastised for having ambition but for not seeing servanthood as the path to greatness in God’s kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28)! Biblical humility does not seek public honor for accomplishments but instead attributes honor to God the Father in heaven who is the source of all life (Matthew 5:16).

Biblical Humility Serves all People

Living amongst the “ME” generation it is incredibly tough to truly love anyone but ourselves. To read that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper seems very odd to this modern age (John 13:1-17). Most people can partially understand this servant act if Jesus wanted something from His disciples like money, fame, friendship or to solidify his leadership role. But to wash the feet of others in order to merely express one’s unconditional love for them is a concept foreign to an individualistic society, especially when the feet of one of those persons washed is about to betray and send you to be crucified! Likewise, this world would find the humility Daniel displayed in Babylon as equally ludicrous. Even though Daniel was treated cruelly by his captors, he served king Nebuchadnezzar with his utmost of his abilities! To the world this kind of unconditional love is not viewed as a strength but a weakness but to God this kind of servanthood is the key to effectively serving in His kingdom!

While we know that servanthood is at the heart of effectively serving in God’s kingdom, would Jesus or Daniel’s humility to serve his enemies be applauded by our modern day church? Maybe, but not likely. Quoting Psalms 1:1-2 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law, day and night;” many Christians feel that associating with the ungodly equates to aiding and abetting the enemy and becoming a spiritual compromiser of sorts (Loc 1495)! How wrong it is that when a missionary befriends a local witch doctor they are praised for making relational inroads but when a Christian befriends a prostitute, homosexual or drug dealer they are viewed as having been comprised in their faith! While we are not to take spiritual advice from the world, hating sin does not mean we hate those created in the image of God (James 3:9)! Daniel served and influenced his captors so much that both king Nebuchadnezzar and Darius ended up admitting that God was the one and true God (Daniel 4:34-37; 6:25-28)! Daniel may have not washed these king’s feet but he certainly had a hand at washing their hearts! Trying to let one’s light shine and influence this world by hiding under a bushel of avoidance is not what Jesus meant when He said “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19)!

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