Summary: Daniel lived amongst the mostly ungodly of all nations and yet when his light shined even kings came to acknowledge God’s might and power. Do not buy into the lie that you cannot make a difference in your workplace, community, family or nation because through the power of God you can!
THRIVING IN BABYLON
Part 4: HAVING WISDOM
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
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 last key, Daniel’s wisdom. Daniel’s hope gave him courage to live for God in a godless culture, his humility gave him favor in the eyes of his captors, but it was his wisdom to make God-honoring choices that enabled him to thrive in Babylon. Daniel knew if he kept his mind and actions fixed on God’s sovereign plan then nothing would be beyond his reach.
Today’s Christians are often described as being spiritually immature because of a lack of perspective (Kindle, Loc. 1696). The kind of immaturity that comes when one places more value on immediate, rather than long term consequences. For many instant gratification of short term desires always trumps waiting to lay the right foundation to succeed in the long run. For example, 8% of Canadian teens chose to quit school before graduating so that they can make enough money to live “independent” of their parents, knowing full well that this decision will in all probability decrease their income substantially over their lifetime. 29 out of 30 people chose to “hook up” to gratify their sexual desires, knowing full well that this kind of promiscuous activity will have a long-term affect on their ability to have a close relationship with their future mate. How many people speed so that they can get to their appointment faster, knowing full well that one in three fatal accidents are due to breaking the speed limit? While knee-jerk compulsions often lead to short term pleasure they rarely lead to long term happiness!
Wisdom Focuses on Long-Term Heavenly Treasures
When Christians choose earthly treasures they can’t keep their heavenly treasures. When Christians lose or judge God’s goodness by today’s problems instead of Good Friday’s sacrifice or respond to sinners with knee-jerk repulsion rather than pursuing the heart of Jesus, they’re stuck in spiritual immaturity. And it breaks God’s heart.
Daniel never chose earthly security over heavenly treasures nor did he evaluate God’s goodness in relation to the temporary success of Babylon (Kindle Loc. 1707). Daniel could have compared Babylon’s success despite their evil ways, to his slave position despite his obedience to God, and conclude that God was not just so why serve Him? He could have sought money, fame and power from Nebuchadnezzar but these pleasures would have been short term, after all God was about to destroy Babylon. How it must break God’s heart when we chase after the temporary pleasure while avoiding the glorious riches of our inheritance through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:18).
Daniel learned from the cloud of witnesses from Israel’s past the importance of throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). For example, from Moses Daniel would have learned that being the second in command of all Egypt was worth throwing away to become a “friend of God” (Exodus 33:11). From a shepherd boy Daniel would have learned that a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14) could become a king of a great nation. From Josiah Daniel would have learned that a nation who lost its ways can be redeemed and brought back into God’s grace. From Jeremiah Daniel would have learned that even when one stands alone on truth that is unpopular, one never truly stands alone! In each of these cases if the people described had hung onto short term pleasures they would not have become the hero's of faith that they were in the Bible.
Wisdom is Obedience and Grace
To be wise one must first learn to obey God. Only a fool would spit against the wind. Relying on our own abilities to plot a course of happiness for ourselves is truly “spitting in the wind” or foolish because our attempts at controlling the unknown future is truly futile (1 Corinthians 3:19). God’s commands are given to us to teach, rebuke, correct and train us how to live holy lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17). To follow God’s laws, we need to be motivated. The first source of motivation to obey God is fear. Remember, God disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6). Looking back God’s response to evil living: the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Ten Plagues of Egypt and the destruction of Israel by Babylon; one should not be surprised that Daniel chose to obey God out of fear of being disciplined. The second source of motivation to obey God is love. We love God because He loved us so much that while we were His enemies Christ died for us (Romans 5:10)! Looking back at God’s grace to save Noah and his family, to free Israel from Egyptian bondage, to anoint David a shepherd boy as king and to grant us our very breath; one should not also be surprised that Daniel chose to obey because he loved his sovereign King!