Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 99; 147:1-11, Daniel 2:17-30, 1 John 2:12-17, John 17:20-26
Have you ever heard the advice to be good to people while you’re on your way up the ladder of success, because you’ll be running into them again on the way down? No matter how successful or powerful we are, no one is completely independent. Take King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon: when he was greatly troubled by a dream, he had to depend on others to interpret it. The self-proclaimed wise men of the kingdom were unable to do this for him – though they still pretended they might – and so he ordered the execution of them and others beside. Daniel heard what was about to happen, so he prayed with his friends that God might have mercy on them. When God revealed to Daniel (in another dream) the meaning of the king’s visions, he sought an audience with the king.
Daniel took no credit for knowing the dream or its interpretation. He said no person could do that, but that God could and had. It’s important to remember our gifts are not meant to exploit others for our own benefit (as the wise men would have exploited the king) or to abuse others (as the angry Nebuchadnezzar would have done to innocents). They exist for us to serve God and God’s kingdom. Daniel wisely presented himself as no one special. It was this very humility, the willingness to cast off his ego and get out of his own way to answer the call to service, that made him very special to the king.
We like to feel special. When other people recognize our talents and efforts, it feels good. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging our abilities – false humility doesn’t serve much of a purpose – but we must always remember to give credit to God. Whether we are kings or captives, we are the same to God because all we have came from God. Whether we find that humbling or heartening reveals something to us about our own attitudes.
On our way up, down, or simply holding steady, we should remain focused on God. That’s the best way to keep our balance.
Comfort: You are special to God …
Challenge: … but no more special than anyone else.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for the time and talents you have given me. Teach me to use them well. Amen.
Discussion: What gift do you think you have faithfully put in service to God?
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