Speak or Stay Silent?
Do you make mistakes? I sure do. It is so much easier to simply react to people rather than stopping, thinking, and responding in love. Pastor Chad talked about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego on Sunday and how they responded to King Nebuchadnezzar when he went a little crazy with power. The king was so confident in his kingdom and the decrees he had made, and that left no room for intelligent discourse. The king had appointed these men as administrators over Babylon at Daniel’s request. He had acknowledged God as the “God of gods and the Lord of kings” fairly recently (Dan. 2:47). But he orders a gigantic golden image to be made and loses his mind. I suppose having a gold ninety-foot high, nine-foot wide statue made is a clue that he was not in his right mind. He decides that whoever doesn’t worship the statue will be killed. When it is brought to his attention that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are not bowing down, he is furious. Then, in answer to his rant, the three men gently, but firmly tell him no. They even say, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.” (Dan. 3:16) They very clearly tell him that it doesn’t matter what he does, they won’t bow down to his gods or the idol he had made. As with all megalomaniacs, this calm, decisive answer makes Nebuchadnezzar even more angry.
Sometimes our gentle answers do not get gentle reactions. And yet, that is how we are called to respond. Because even if Nebuchadnezzar’s heart hadn’t been completely (though temporarily) changed by the miracle that followed, we know that other people in that room would have been in awe of the way they stood up for what they believed. This is often what we don’t see–the results of standing our ground gently, but firmly. The problem comes when we are standing our ground on our own beliefs rather than what is written in Scripture. That is usually when our answers come out much more forcefully than necessary. The next time you feel yourself getting very angry about something, check Scripture. You could be completely wrong.
Shadrach and crew were not standing against the king. They were standing against what the king was telling them to do. There is a difference, and we need to be cautious about what we are saying along with how we are saying it. Those men clearly had reason to tell the king he was completely wrong. Remember Nebuchadnezzar had acknowledged the authority and power God has just one chapter before this story. While this part of the story could have been a few years later, these friends of Daniel’s could have reminded the king what he had said. But they read the room, recognized the king was not in his right mind, and proceeded to just stand without arguing, without preaching, without scolding, without trying to show the king how mistaken he was. While they ended up in the fire anyway, God saved them absolutely. They didn’t even smell like fire! That was a thorough rescue. And Nebuchadnezzar completely changes his tune. All because of what God did. Not because of a sermon the faithful men preached–what they said was only three sentences long! Only because they acknowledged God as the only One they would bow to, and what God did.
It is too easy for us to think we can handle things. We can find the words, we can preach the best sermon they’ve ever heard, we can be the very best example out there. But God is the One Who is in control. Sometimes we need to stand firmly but quietly and let Him work.