¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Have you ever found yourself to be in a spot vividly described as being ‚Äúbetween a rock and a hard place?‚ÄĚ¬† It refers to being in a position where you cannot win.¬† You are faced with two or more choices none of which will turn out the way you‚Äôd like them to.¬† The word for that is ‚Äúdilemma.‚ÄĚ
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† In the book of Daniel, chapter 6, we find the king of the Persians and Medes faced with such a choice.¬† In a nut shell the story goes like this:¬† Darius was well pleased with Daniel.¬† Even though he had been one of the captives from Judah, he had shown loyalty, honesty and obedience to the king.¬† Darius took favor in Daniel.¬† Of all the governors and leaders king Darius had appointed, he found Daniel to be by far the best and was contemplating making him the top leader of his empire under himself.¬† What an honor this would have been!
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† However, the other leaders in the kingdom found out what Darius was intending to do and they didn‚Äôt like it one bit.¬† They were jealous of Daniel and began working to find some ‚Äúdirt‚ÄĚ on him.¬† But no matter where they looked they could find nothing on this man that would discredit him before the king.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† They reasoned that there was only one thing in which they could entrap Daniel and that was in his worship of God.¬† Daniel was in the habit of opening his window that looked in the direction of his homeland and the Jewish Temple that had once so magnificently stood, and pray to God.¬† He did this three times each day.¬† That was it. ¬†¬†If they could trick king Darius into signing a decree against the religion of Daniel then they could catch him up in illegal activity.¬† They knew that Daniel would never turn on his God.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† So they went to Darius, pumping him up with all kinds of compliments, telling him how powerful he was and how well liked he had become in the kingdom.¬† In their kingdom, the ruler was considered to be on an equal plain with the gods.¬† They reasoned that since Darius was so great that a decree should be made that none in their empire should worship any god for thirty days other than Darius, and that violators should be executed by being thrown into a den of hungry, starving lions.¬† Wow, there was no love lost between these guys and Daniel!
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The king was intrigued with the idea.¬† Without thinking it through thoroughly he signed the decree and it was set in stone.¬† By their law any decree signed by the king could not be altered, even by the king himself.¬† It was a done deal.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Of course, afterwards, these men staked out Daniel‚Äôs window and sure enough, just as he did each and every day, Daniel opened it and began to pray to the one true God.¬† They had him!¬† When they immediately reported it to the king, Darius realized what he had done.¬† He didn‚Äôt want to execute the best man in his kingdom just because he worshipped his God.¬† He knew at that precise moment that he had been tricked.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† But it wasn‚Äôt the men who convinced him to sign such a decree who were his worst enemies; it was his own self.¬† He had allowed himself to be lifted up in pride because of the great power he had.¬† He let these things rule in his heart instead of stopping to think it through clearly.¬† We‚Äôd call him a vain man.¬† But wait a minute; what of our own experiences with these two characteristics?¬† Of course most of us aren‚Äôt kings over a vast empire like Darius.¬† We could never be lifted up in such a way as this man.¬† The truth is that pride and power come in all shapes and sizes.¬† I‚Äôve heard many poor people speak in pride because they felt they were better than the rich.¬† It doesn‚Äôt really make a lot of sense does it?
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† In reality none of us are better than anyone else.¬† Some may have a pot-load of money that seemingly makes one more powerful than another.¬† Others may hold high offices, governing millions of people and that is certainly enough power to lift one up in pride.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The fact is that in our own ways, whether poor and proud, or rich and proud and every degree in between, pride can be found in one shape or form.¬† In all cases it can be used of the devil to lift us up, thinking we are better than someone else, or that we have power over others and it will be used by our enemy, the devil, to put us in the same kind of dilemma in which Darius found himself.¬† What decision is your own pride and power causing you to make?
Jerry D. Ousley is the author of √ĮSoul Challenge√Į, √ĮSoul Journey√Į, √ĮOrdeal√Į, √ĮThe Spirit Bread Daily Devotional and his first novel √ĮThe Shoe Tree.√Į Visit our website at spiritbread.com to download these and more completely free of charge.
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