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7th September 2014
The chapter in the Bible about Daniel and the lions' den (Daniel 6) is ultimately about God's sovereignty and glory. Daniel was exiled to Babylon and lived for 70 years serving the kings of that nation. The Bible tells us he did this with excellence.
Jesus said that his followers are "salt and light" (Matt. 5:16) and in other places in the New Testament we're told to live such good lives that those who don't know God start worshipping Him. How are we doing with living 'excellently'? If you were to hand in your resignation at work, would your boss try to keep you or be relieved to see the back of you? When you're at the supermarket checkout, is your face so long it travels along the conveyor belt, or would the assistant wish every customer was like you?
The key to Daniel's excellence was his relationship with God. The key to Daniel's life is seen in chapter six, verse 10, where we see Daniel go about his usual custom of praying and giving thanks to God three times a day, even though he knew it could cost him his life. Why did he do it? Because he was more influenced by God than by men! He didn't fling up a crisis prayer; he just did what he always did. His behaviour didn't change when circumstances got hard – he had cultivated a lifestyle and habit of reliance on God.
Daniel could've thought, "Well it's only 30 days without prayer – that's not too bad!" What would it take for you to miss 30 days of praying? Would you miss it?! God was so important to Daniel that he counted everything else as rubbish compared to that, which is the same as the apostle Paul in the New Testament (Phil. 3:7-8), and the same attitude we are called to hold. It's about knowing Christ, walking with Him, knowing His voice and enjoying Him. Are you hungry for God?
Daniel's excellence flowed from his relationship with God. But there was a real cost for following God. There were moments when he refused to compromise, even if it cost him his life. We are not in life-threatening situations, but we still need courage to follow God. We all find ourselves in moments where we choose whether or not to honour God. All of our sins can be forgiven, but we can never replay those moments once they've gone.
We're called to be a people who influence, who display something of the goodness of God. We do this as we have excellence in what we do, as we invest in our relationship with God, and as we pay the cost each time he asks us to. Jesus said that those who follow him need to deny themselves (Luke 9:23). When we do, we influence others around us for the glory of God.
To listen to the 'Costly Influence' sermon and download the life application questions, click here.
Posted by Paul Mann