Now Daniel so distinguished himself …… that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”….
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lion’s den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and people of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures for ever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
[they] questioned Jesus: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest… But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
As members of God’s kingdom living in a fallen world, our purpose is to serve others and use our gifts according to the opportunities given to us. We serve whole-heartedly – God first and under his authority, the governments and institutions which he has appointed to create justice, peace and an environment for human flourishing.
We are at his disposal, and called to be active in his name and for his glory. We can give freely to our families, communities and employers, serving our Lord in all we do, looking to him for reward and seeking always to honour and bring him praise. We have gifts, time and strength, and it is good to know God’s pleasure as we surrender these things to him and see them being used. It is good and right to enjoy what we can do!
For some this will mean accepting positions of leadership and governance – an exposed and dangerous place – we must pray for them! In our day and age it can be career-ending to express an opinion which goes against popular culture, and will certainly result in public vilification and abuse. In spite of faithful service, and a blameless record, it will be in our loyalty to God, and the moral judgements and actions which we take on that basis, which will bring trouble upon us. Daniel was victimised, framed and condemned to death for putting worship of the living God before obedience to the king’s commands.
When the world around begins to demand what we cannot give – ie our loyalty to God as lord of our lives, and the commitments which go with that – then we resist. Our loyalty is first to our heavenly king, to his kingdom. When Jesus was put on trial, he was obeying the will of God, living according to the values of that kingdom. As his followers, we too may be called to such costly obedience – many in our world are suffering and being martyred for this allegiance to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. In that context, our service to God is our willingness to suffer, a sacrifice of costly obedience to him and the trust that Daniel displayed when he entered the den of lions, or Queen Esther, when she risked her life to intercede for her threatened people.
Doing the right thing doesn’t always end ‘well’ in human terms, although for both Daniel and Esther, it did and not only were their lives spared, but God was honoured by the outcome of their trials! However, we are assured of an eternal reward and the knowledge that God will use all we give – service and sacrifice – for his glory.