Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 145, Daniel 1:1-21, 1 John 1:1-10, John 17:1-11
The Babylonians routinely took captives from the lands they conquered and trained them for civil service in the empire. Daniel of Judah and his friends were captives of this sort. While they could serve the king without betraying their faith, they couldn’t eat food from his table because it had been sacrificed to foreign Gods. One of their jailors took pity on them and agreed to bring them nothing but vegetables and water – as long as they did not become obviously thinner and weaker than the other captives. Daniel and his friends flourished and outperformed their fellows.
It’s tempting to sacrifice our principles under duress. Unlike Daniel and friends, when layoffs start happening at work, or we are the victim of a crime, or we feel like the culture around us is pressuring us to change, we may not feel the same assurance that God will help us endure and thrive. Though faith is on our minds and lips, it may falter in our hearts. At those moments, it’s easy to say, “I know this is wrong, but I have to do it to survive.”
The Book of Daniel tells us Judah fell into captivity because it did not faithfully follow God. While God eventually restored Judah, it seems that, to God, surviving may be secondary to thriving. 1 John declares: “If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Whether we are true to God, ourselves, and each other during hard times is an indicator of whether we will thrive spiritually when those hard times pass, or if they endure.
Accepting Christ is the moment we step into the light. Each step we take is a decision whether to stay in the light or stray from it. God’s love never falters, but whether we thrive or merely survive is up to us.
Comfort: Staying true to God and yourself gives you inner peace.
Challenge: When times get tough, double down on your commitment to doing the right thing.
Prayer: Heavenly Creator, I will walk in your light and love. Amen.
Discussion: How do you feel when you have not lived up to your own principles?
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