Substantial Character — 23 August 2020 Devotional

Daniel 6:1–24; Philippians 2:3–16

Adventure! Drama! Let’s see the big scene!

Daniel and the Lion’s Den is a dramatic story. No question about that. It’s a great one for kids.

Daniel, himself, is a great character. Daniel has great character. If you read the story carefully, you’ll notice something interesting. Daniel only has spoken words at the end when he assures Darius that all is well.

This also speaks to Daniel’s character. As much as the Book of Daniel is Daniel’s story, the Book of Daniel is about God’s plan and redemptive action regarding the people of Judah in their time of exile.

Daniel (along with others) was called to work for the kingdom they were in (for the Generations community, that was the topic of the last two sermons). He was called to work for the benefit of the kingdom. He was not called to gain power.

※ Why do we often think we must have “power” to change things or make things better? ※

Daniel did gain power. However, he did not act as if it was his to do with as he pleased. This contrasts with the two other administrators and all the satraps.* who sought greater power and control of their own. As Daniel was successful as a leader for the empire, pursuing their own success and power was then not working for the empire.

As we watch the unfolding of political events around the world (not just the US), all too often people use the emotions of others to draw people it…to gain power and influence. Most of the bureaucrats that are often maligned are putting aside their gain to their best (as they understand it) for their nation.

Does that mean there aren’t any “bad actors”? Of course not! It does mean there are likely as many “bad actors” as there are anywhere else, or as few. Yet, a cabal like the one portrayed here is really beyond the US system (despite the conspiracy theories, yes, I’m stepping in a minefield).

However, culturally, it was normal. In fact, there are still examples of it today throughout the world. Thus, the best witness that Daniel could be (the one he was called to) was to serve God well through the place and time he was.

※What is the witness of this time and place for you? ※

Daniel truly embodies the Christ-like characteristics of unselfish ambition looking to the benefits of Darius and the Median empire. His character was so resolute that even his adversaries recognized it.

Daniel became a true and devout servant of the empire, even going so far as to submit to being setup. Daniel maintained his integrity and his faithful witness, despite the efforts of those around him.

While perhaps only for a brief time, Darius honored Daniel’s faith and the God Daniel served. All this building up to even a greater witness.

Imagine that. Being quiet, gentle, unassuming, and working for the benefit of others was Daniel’s greatest witness.

These same characteristics apply to Jesus. As Paul noted, Jesus set aside being God to serve the created. While not literally exiled from Heaven (unlike others), Jesus was in exile. Jesus was now in one heart with the created.

Jesus surrendered in grace and mercy to a system and peoples (Jews and Romans) that unjustly crucified him. Jesus did it for all people. He was looking out for everyone else’s interests.

※What does Paul’s ending words in this passage tell you about Paul’s heart? ※

※Prayer※

Holy Spirit, shape and mold us to be humble people that seek the welfare of others so that we are a faithful witness of your work in our lives. Amen.


* not including Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, more commonly called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego