We are in the midst of Exiled: A Study of the Book of Daniel. Our hope is to learn to live as exiles with a courageous faithfulness that declares and demonstrates the goodness of God. One of the reasons we wanted to follow our Acts series with this series on Daniel is because most of us will not spend our days as the kinds of missionaries that Paul depicts for us in Acts. However, Exodus (and other churches) are filled with missionaries like Daniel and his three friends.
These men were “university students” who became government employees in a culture that didn’t hold their faith commitments. So, watching Daniel and his friends walk this out gives us a greater understanding of how to live as faithful Christians in our workplace.
In Daniel 1, we see three ways these men live as exiles in their workplace.
First, they walk humbly by respecting those who are in authority over them.
Though Daniel disagrees with the policy of those in authority, he walks with a humility toward them. He asks if he can do something different. He doesn’t demand. He doesn’t protest. He doesn’t start a hunger strike.
Second, Daniel and his friends show tenacity.
Though God gives Daniel favor in the eyes of the chief, the chief doesn’t grant his request. However, Daniel is tenacious and goes to the steward who is willing to grant their request.
Finally, Daniel and his friends show a diligent work ethic.
They learned the material assigned to them. They were faithful, hardworking students. In fact, none were found who were as good at what they did as those four young men. They were 10 times better than all the others in the kingdom, not just in their class, but in the kingdom.
Here’s a question. What if Christians were the best employees in every organization in our region? Worked the hardest? Made the best decisions? How would that change our workplaces? How might that prepare those around us to hear the gospel?
Daniel and his friends live in their workplaces with a humility, tenacity and diligence that is worthy of imitation. They could only do this because God gave them the grace to do it.
Two times in the passage we read, “and God gave” (v. 9, 17). In other words, what was worthy of imitation about their lives is ultimately the result of the gift of God. Sure, they worked hard. Sure, they labored faithfully. There is no contradiction between God giving and Daniel working. Rather, Daniel’s working is a result of God working, and in his work, God gives more grace.
So, as those who are called to be strangers and exiles (1 Peter 2:11) where we live, work and play, let us work with a humility, tenacity and diligence that can only be ascribed to the goodness of our God. Let us pray for the blessing of God on our employers and labor for it as well. Let us serve God by serving those who are in authority over us.
And let’s pray that even if “they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)