When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
The story of Daniel illustrates how to bend without breaking when you face opposition. First, as we saw yesterday, you need to be a winsome witness for Christ. Second, pick your battles carefully. I think as time goes on, we are going to have to learn this more and more. We cannot make every issue a federal case. We need to pick our battles as Christians carefully. Daniel did that. Remember that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon changed Daniel’s name. In Hebrew, Daniel means “Yahweh is my judge.” Nebuchadnezzar said, “We don’t worship Yahweh around here; I’m changing your name to Belteshazzar.” Do you know what that means? “Baal is great.” Daniel could have said, “I am not taking that name. I don’t care what you call me–every check I sign I am using ‘Daniel.’” Had that happened, the book of Daniel would have only had one chapter, and it would have ended with Daniel getting thrown in the lions’ den. But he did not draw the line in the sand there.
Then they gave Daniel a Babylonian education. He could have said, “I am not going to fill my mind with that pagan mythology. I want to go to a Hebrew school, where I only learn from the Torah.” No, Daniel underwent that Babylonian education.
But when it came to the new diet, which required Daniel to break God’s law, he said no. That was a conviction that was rooted in the Word of God. When I say you need to pick your battles carefully, I mean that you need to make sure that the battle line you are drawing is a biblical one, not just one of personal opinion or preference. For example, there are Christians who refuse to have their children vaccinated. There may be good reasons you do not want to vaccinate your children. That is between you, your family, and the government, but do not make it a Christian issue. You have to really convolute the Bible to make vaccination a Christian issue. If you are going to take a stand, make sure it is a stand that is rooted in the Bible. In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles were told they could no longer preach in the name of Jesus. They could have said, “Okay, we will just refer to God and not refer to Jesus. That way we do not have to suffer at all.” No, they would not bend on that. In Acts 5:29 they said, “We must obey God rather than men.” When it comes to Biblical truth, you cannot surrender those convictions. But make sure the stand you are taking is biblically based.
Third, in order to bend without breaking, you have to demonstrate respect for authority. If you do disobey, do so respectfully. Proverbs 16:7 says, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Daniel reacted respectfully to Ashpenaz and Nebuchadnezzar, and he was granted favor. We need to be prepared for increasingly having to say no to authority, whether it is an employer or even the government itself. But when we do that, we should do so respectfully.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #6: Bend, Don’t Break” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.