I've been working my way through the book of Daniel during my lunch break at work. There are several things that have recently struck me from this all too familiar story that I don't believe I have seen or learned from it before.
The first thing is Daniel's reputation. By chapter 6 of this portion of scripture, Daniel has endured serving three different kings in exile from his homeland. Under each of these kings' rule, Daniel's reputation grants him great influence in the Babylonian empire. This might not seem like much, but I think this is truly profound when you examine this from a different perspective. Daniel's story begins with his desire to be obedient to God's leading and call on his life. In exile, he along with 3 other companions refused to eat food from the king's table and instead were sustained by a diet of fresh vegetables and water. These men chose this course of action because they were unwilling to allow their bodies to be defiled by being disobedient to God's law regarding an Israelite's dietary needs. Next, Daniel begins interpreting the dreams of the king even though his interpretation was one that would bring demise to this king's rule. When praised for his ability to interpret dreams, Daniel corrects this king and reminds him that it is God who gets the credit, not him. And then we come to the familiar portion of Daniel's life and his incident with a group of lions in a den. Again, Daniel refuses to allow himself to walk outside of God's intended rhythm and design for his life, and he does so with a measure of grace and humility that each of us can learn a lot from.
In each of these 3 instances Daniel refuses to build his own reputation. Instead, Daniel gives honor and glory to God, and God as a result of Daniel's humility, increases Daniel's reputation. There is a lot to be said here about this course of action. We often engage in activity that is designed to make us noticed in the eyes of others. In Daniel we see and example of someone whose primary focus and concern was what God thought of his life, and not want his peers or what his reputation said.
How many times are we tempted to walk down the road of personal affirmation? I recently became aware that I desperately crave regular verbal affirmation from my wife, my kids, my co-workers and others. I wrestled with this thought initially because I feared that my desire was to have my ego stroked and my reputation built. But, when I poured my heart out in prayer to my Father regarding this self-discovery, what I learned was that my desire is to see God's hand at work in and through my life, and not to add credentials to my life or my reputation.
For those of you who long to be noticed, let me ask you this: What are you hoping to be known for? If we can learn anything from the life of Daniel, I believe we should learn that the only thing worth being known for is our obedience and commitment to our relationship with Christ.