Burned

I am always amazed by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace if they didn’t bow down and worship his idol, they responded, “Go ahead, throw us in!”

O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter.  If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)

I have heard numerous times, and probably said numerous times myself, “If it’s God’s will, then he will make it successful.”  However, when I read these words from Daniel, I realize that sometimes, even when we do what God would want us to do, there is a possibility of getting burned.

One of the hardest situations to recover from is when we offer help to someone and then discover that our help has been taken advantage of.  We act out of concern for another, and in return the person we help is ungrateful, wasteful, or even tries to milk our kindness for selfish purposes.  When we realize what has happened, it can make us feel like we made a mistake helping in the first place.  We question our intentions, and wonder if we should ever take such a risk again.

We should.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to be thrown into the fiery furnace confident that God could save them but not sure that he would save them.  They took their stand against worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol not because they knew they would be safe but because they knew it was the right thing to do.  And they were willing to do what they knew to be right, even if it meant that they could get burned.

The prophets were not remembered because of successful revivals but because they spoke the truth even when doing so meant losing everything and everyone.  The disciples left family and careers to follow Christ, and it led them to a cross. William Wilberforce spent 25 years in the late 18th-early 19th century pushing Parliament to end the British slave trade, only to get voted down every year.  If Wilberforce one day said, “Well, I have not been successful ending the slave trade, so it must not be what God wants”, there never would have been the 26th year when Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807, ending Britain’s involvement in the African slave trade.

Sometimes we will do the right thing and get burned in our doing it; other times we will know the joy and wonder of success and salvation.  What we must remember is our righteousness is based not on what happens when we face the fiery furnace and all about when we face the King of Kings.  On that day, our success is not his concern.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”  And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:37-40).