How the Gospel enables you to work and suffer well - by Kruger de Kock

I know the world of politics can be hard, but I've not heard of anyone being thrown into a Lion's den recently. In Daniel 6 we read that the reason Daniel was punished was not for an expenses scandal or poor parliament attendance but for... well, being excellent at his job. 

So how did he cope with this? And more importantly - how did he become so good at his job?

From the text we see at least two things that helped.  He lived up to his name while living with certain good habits. 

His name Daniel in Hebrew simply means 'God is my judge'. And although we've seen throughout Daniel 1 - 6 that he didn't seek human approval, it is only when he openly rejects a human rule not to pray to anyone except King Darius that his deeply held conviction becomes clear.

Secondly, he simply followed good habits in spite of what the culture around him said: "Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." Daniel 6:10-11.

Although it was the conviction in what his name stood for and his good habits that lead to Daniel being thrown into the Lion's den - it was exactly these two things that made him into the brilliant worker that he was. The God that was his judge was the same God that said to the exiles "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  And this he did.  Three times a day.  With his face towards Jerusalem but with his hands and feet serving excellently in Babylon - seeking God's help on how to do it better.

Now we could make the mistake to think that in order to work and suffer well we just need to follow Daniel's example. But that would be to miss the main point. Daniel's supernatural love for God as his Judge and Saviour pre-figures a hero who would love God as his Judge and Saviour so perfectly that he would become the ultimate Judge and Saviour of the universe.  

You see - we are not Daniel in the story.  Daniel points us to Christ - the one who was also innocently judged and executed by an unwilling King (Luke 23) only to appear alive from the grave three days later.  

We are in fact more like the satraps and religious leaders in Jesus' time - by nature inclined to  reject God's right judgement of us and deeming his saving help unnecessary. We tend to think that other people, especially those that are powerful will be our final judges. We work to keep them satisfied - cultivating habits that serve what we fear.  

But Jesus' death on the cross means that our sins have already been judged.  Not by a human court. But by God himself. It has been judged and punished and those that put their faith in Jesus Christ have been justified - "just as if we never sinned".  The final judge of a human life it turns out is not other people - but the one who gave himself to save us.  We don't have to work in order to be saved - he has already done that for every believer.  This leads to a life of freedom from fear - freedom to live wholeheartedly for the one that saved us, knowing that if he gave himself he will also give us everything else we might need, even in the midst of suffering.