TEXT: DANIEL 1:1-8
TITLE: FAITHFULNESS – RESOLVED or RELUCTANT?
AUTHOR: JACK WOODARD
All of us are familiar with the story of Daniel, and how at a young age (probably 15 or 16 years of age) he was taken captive by the Babylonian Army and sent to Babylon along with hundreds of others. Upon arrival he was one of a select few young men chosen to be trained to help administrate Nebuchadnezzar’s Kingdom. As a young man, who was a Child of God, this immediately presented Daniel and his fellow captives with several challenges to their Faith and their Faithfulness to their God. The very same challenges every young Christian is facing today in our society. (See my sermon on Daniel; Point #1, under SERMON CATEGORY, at https://jackwoodard.wordpress.com)
1. The Challenge of a Secular Education [Daniel 1:4]
2. The Challenge of Sinful Enticements [Daniel 1:5-8]
3. The Challenge of Social Edicts [Daniel 6:4-5]
4. The Challenge of the Suffering Entailed [Daniel 6:1]
In the face of these severe challenges we are told in Daniel 1:8, that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he WOULD NOT defile himself…” The Word “PURPOSED” in Hebrew gives us the key to Daniel’s greatness. It means; *To Resolve, *To Determine, *To Make Up Your Mind, i.e. Daniel made a thoughtful decision, he made up his mind, he came to a decision in his heart that he was not going to compromise his faith and the revealed Word of God.
The problem with so many in our Churches today (young and old alike) is that, unlike Daniel, we are Reluctant to make any vows to anyone, to make any commitments to anyone. We are a non-committal society. We want to remain free and untied to anyone and anything.
For example, many young people today do not want to be tied to another by marriage vows, (except homosexuals, who want the right to marry another of the same sex) they do not want to be tied to a local church by joining it. They want to remain free and untied to anyone or any organization.
We see the Apostle Paul introducing himself in Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1, as “Paul, a SERVANT of Jesus Christ…” The Greek Word for Servant means; a slave, a bond slave. A Bond Slave was one, like Daniel, who had made a decision to serve his master for the rest of their lives. He chose not to have any rights, not to have any will but his master’s will. He had no plans, but to faithfully follow the orders and wishes of his master.
That is a description to a true disciple of Christ. That, we are told by Jesus in Matthew 16:24,25, is a decision every Christian is going to have to come to if they are really going to follow Jesus and find the full and abundant life, that can only be found in the will of God for us.
We all must be honest and admit to ourselves that there are not many Daniels and Paul’s among us. We must be brutally honest and admit that each of us are reluctant to make that kind of surrender of our lives to Jesus, and if we have done so, we find ourselves struggling daily to remain true to our vow to Jesus.
Why is it that we have so many that are Reluctant to make such a surrender to our Precious Savior? Let’s look at a few reasons for such Reluctance, and see if we too are guilty of being part of the Rebellious Generation, the Non-Committal Generation.
I. THE REASONS SO MANY ARE RELUCTANT and NOT RESOLVED
A. A Lack of Education:
The Great Commission commands the Church not only to Win Souls to Christ and Baptize them and bring them into the fellowship of a local church, but we are to follow on and TEACH them to “…observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” [Matthew 28:20]
Many read that as to mean that we are to teach them the Doctrines of the Faith, and it surely does mean that, but first of all, it means that the Church is to teach a new convert that they are to OBEY the Lord’s Word, no matter what He tells you to do. OBEDIENCE is the very first lesson a new convert is to be taught.
Old timers used say of young people who were constantly misbehaving that, “They had not had any raising”; meaning that their parents had failed to teach them have to live properly. That is no doubt the reason for so much of the misbehaving in today’s Church.
The Church today seems to be teaching their members to PRAY for whatever they want, instead of OBEYING whatever Jesus wants. Most preachers are preaching more FEEL GOOD Sermons than DO GOOD SERMONS. The result of this foolishness is that we have produced a Church that is purely self centered instead of Christ centered. A church that knows little about being surrendered to Jesus, and very reluctant to do so if they ever hear a call to do so.
B. A Lack of Example:
A person learns by example as much as by exhortation. Very few Christians in America have been blessed to have an EXAMPLE like a Daniel, or an Apostle Paul to follow. We have not only failed to properly teach Discipleship to our people, we have also failed to properly model to our young the example of a real Disciple of Christ, and many that have so taught, have destroyed their teaching by their poor example.
It can not be just “DO AS I SAY”, like the Apostle Paul, we must be able to say; “Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and SEEN in me, do…” [Philippians 4:9]
Do not let your poor example to become a stumbling block to others. Too many have grown up in the Church seeing it’s members and leaders fussing and fighting, half-hearted and even cold-hearted. No wonder so many are reluctant to be faithful themselves.
C. A Lack of Experience:
We must face the reality that many of the people among us that seem to have so little interest in following Jesus and His Word, are so, because they have never really Experienced a New Birth in Christ. There are as many Foolish Virgins among us as there are Wise Ones. [Matthew 25:1-13]
Jesus makes it very clear that; “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me…” [John 14:21] and that; “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings…” [John 14:24] It can not be any clearer than that. We must begin to boldly challenge the disobedient to; “EXAMINE YOURSELVES, WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH; PROVE YOURSELVES.” [2 Corinthians 13:5]
There is a possibility that these people are saved, but the greater probability is that they have not had the New Birth Experience in their lives. My friend “You Must Be Born Again”, [John 3:3] and, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]
II. THE REASONS WE MUST BE RESOLVED TO BE FAITHFUL
A. Because We Belong To Him. [1 Corinthians 6:16-20]
When a man and a woman stand at the marriage altar and make their vows to one another and say to each other; “I DO”, they are no longer their own, they belong to one another, and of the many things that is expected of each party, Faithfulness tops the list. The same is true for everyone that has taken Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. We belong to Him, and Him alone.
B. Because He Commands It. [Revelation 2:10]
Jesus is not opened minded about our relationship with Him as some couples are. We do not have an open relationship with Jesus, in which he doesn’t care if we are unfaithful to Him. He is a Jealous God; [Exodus 20:5] who demands faithfulness from His Bride.
C. Because We Can Be. [1 Corinthians 4:2]
Jesus never requires anything from us that He will not give to us the grace to accomplish. There are many things I cannot do. I cannot sing and Jesus has never once told me to get up in Church and sing a special, (The qualifications for singing in the choir should be, “if you can’t sing, you can’t sing”) but faithfulness is something that I can do, and because of that He demands that I do so. Each of us must always be faithful to do what we can do.
D. Because We Are In a Battle. [1 Timothy 6:12; 2Timothy 4:7]
There are battles raging today. There is the battle over the Inerrancy of the Scriptures, the Deity of Christ, the Exclusiveness of Salvation in Jesus, the Reality of H-E-L-L, Traditional Family Values and the Survival of Our Nation.
The many battles we are engaged in means that all hands must be on deck. The devil’s crowd is always faithful to show up for the battle, and most of his victories are won by default. The Lord’s team fails to show up for the fight.
E. Because Our Unfaithfulness Unduly Burdens Others. [Galatians 6:5]
When we fail to carry our own burdens, that means that someone else will have to shoulder them, along with their own.
I remember being taught this lesson during Marine Corp Boot Camp. Our Drill Instructor would have each squad to line up, one in front of another, and pick up a long heavy wooden pole, place it upon our shoulders and begin to march in step with one another. Then the Drill Instructor would begin to point to one of the men to drop out of line, then another, until there would be just a few left to carry the load. I recall that even though the pole was heavy, that when everyone carried their load, it was bearable, but when people began to drop out and those that were left had to carry the extra load, the burden became almost unbearable. That is a picture of the Church. The unfaithfulness of so many has left the remaining faithful with a burden that is almost unbearable.
The faithful few are having to carry the whole financial burden, the whole labor burden, etc. We must begin to demand each member be faithful to carry their own God-Given Burdens.
III. THE REWARDS FOR FAITHFULNESS
A. A Full Life [Matthew 16:25]
Every self-serving soul will one day realize as did Solomon; that it will all have been Vanity, only the ashes of an empty life is all they will have to show for the years of living for themselves and ignoring the will of God for their life, but Jesus promises and experience confirms, that those like Daniel and the Apostle Paul, who were faithful servants of the Lord, will find that they have lived life to the fullest.
No one who has lost their will in the Lord’s, ever lived to regret it, but millions have went to their grave regretting they had not done so.
B. A Crown of Life [James 1:12]
Faithfulness is not only the doorway to the fullest life in the here and now, but such a life will be Crowned in the hereafter. We must never forget that each of us are going to have to go into eternity and face the Lord. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2 Corinthians 5:10]
We are all going into eternity, and some who have been last will be first, this life will then be Crowned for our faithfulness to Jesus. Those who have been unfaithful to their Lord in this life will be last, their eternity will fall short of what it may have been and could have been, just because they chose to live for themselves in the few short years that the Lord had granted them here upon the earth.
I believe Jim Elliot saw the choice before him when he said; “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Don’t play the fool. Choose a life of Faithfulness. Resolve to be Faithfull. No more Reluctance.