If you take a minute to turn in your Bible to Daniel chapter three, you’ll find the old Sunday school classic: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What makes these three guys special is not that they did the right thing (though that is certainly commendable), but that they chose to do it long before they ever knew that there was going to be trouble. Before their boss, the king, had even begun to think of setting up a golden statue of himself and demanding that everyone worship it, they had decided that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be their God as well. This decision to allow Him to direct their lives affected the way they behaved in the king’s court and that behavior earned each of them positions of special honor in Babylon.
More importantly, however, by making the choice to serve God above the king, they prepared themselves in advance to do the right thing when circumstances did turn against them. Threatened with losing not just their jobs, but also their lives, they were able to stand strong. Instead of bending their morals, they stood in front of their boss and answered, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) They recognized that everything they had or ever would have originated with the God they served and not the king who wielded power over them. Whatever happened, everything would be okay.
This determination and faith in God’s sovereignty are just as important for us today. Faced with workplace scenarios in which unethical behavior can be the norm, we may find ourselves struggling to decide between holding onto our job and doing what we know to be right. When faced with a choice between maintaining the respect of our boss or coworkers and clinging to our faith, our only hope is to have determined Who’s approval matters well in advance.
That said, the decision to trust God (who we can’t see) instead of our boss (who is sometimes painfully visible) can, at times, be counterintuitive. After all, falsifying a time card or lying to a customer can seem like small potatoes when the alternative is an earful of profane ranting from a man or woman who has the power to throw us out into the streets. Perhaps that’s why God took such pains to remind us that if we make His kingdom our primary concern, He will provide all of our earthly needs. Indeed, we are promised that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
But what is that purpose? And once we’ve discovered it, how do we stick to it, even in the face of adversity? We’ll begin to explore the answers to those questions next week. Meanwhile, feel free to share your own thoughts on the topic in the comment box below!