There was a man named Jim Jablon, who lived with two lions in their habitat for a month to raise money for his wildlife rehabilitation shelter in Florida. The two not-yet-ferocious feline occupants living with him were named Ed and Lea. Jablon completed the month together with the two-year-old lions with just a few minor scratches and significant donations to his cause. There’s a reason that this stunt made news. Even if the great cats were young and completely calm, some change or some provocation or simply an accident and Jablon could have been lunch. The risk of injury or death would frighten even the bravest soul.
In Daniel 6, that brave soul was Daniel. He knew his prayers would put him in the lion’s den. He refused to let that change a thing. Daniel was a man of excellence. Not only did he instill so much confidence in King Darius that he was in line to be the first in command (v. 3), but Daniel’s worst enemies were unable to find fault with him (v. 4). But that didn’t stop them.
Here’s a question for you. Have you ever been involved in office or business politics? Most people in business have. It impacts even the newest employee, as people begin to get him or her on their side and at the same time evaluate if the new person is a threat to their position or ranking in the unofficial business pecking order. Everybody takes sides so they are not left to themselves when power and influence is needed. That often requires currying favor with the boss or bosses on one hand and watching out for your back on the other. Because if people see you as a threat or as a competition, they will do whatever they can to eliminate that threat. It is the crab mentality. Crabs will pull each other back into the bucket, because if I can’t get out, neither will you. That doesn’t mean it will always be overt, illegal or unethical either. They can withhold needed information or deny you authority. Other times it may be slander or accusations. It is the survival of the fittest and it can feel like you are fresh meat for the lions.
In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel is now set in a high place and office politics has intensified. The people around him are jealous and devise ways to sabotage Daniel. They set up a conspiracy against him, and were looking to report to the king any error, or mistake Daniel would make. But in Daniel 6:4, we are told that: “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
People will try to tear you down because you are a Christ follower. You can’t always stop what people are thinking about you. You can’t stop how people plot against you. You can’t always defend yourself. And it is not always possible to be extricated from such environments. But we can understand that if we serve God, people will try to tear us down. And more importantly we need to understand our enemy. The forces of darkness are real and would like nothing more than to marginalize you and your relationship with God. And as Roy said on Sunday, “if we are not ready to face opposition, we are not ready to be used by God.”
God did not promise to give us a trouble-free life, but to give us victory over our troubles. He is a very present help in our troubles. We have the promise that He will never leave or forsake us and Jesus said that He would be with us until the end. Our trust in God is a conduit through which His power flows to and through us. It is called faith. And when we take a stand for God, that faith will be tested.
1. “When God raises you up, expect people to tear you down.” Have you experienced the truth of this statement? If so, how? Have you experienced office politics? What was your reaction?
2. What is it about Christianity that provokes the need to tear Christians down? Do you believe Christians are arrogant? On a pedestal?
3. Are we sometimes guilty of tearing down other Christians? Why?
4. How do we prepare for the day when we are confronted with people trying to tear us down? What can we learn from Daniel on this issue?
5. Pray and ask God to give you the wisdom and courage to keep your eyes fixed on God when confronted with people who wish to tear you down.