Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. Daniel 6:3
Daniel was among the Jews carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Although living in a pagan land, Daniel and three other young men determined that they would remain true to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For Daniel, that decision would land him in a den of very hungry lions and his friends in a fiery furnace, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Darius, the ruler over Babylon at the time had appointed one hundred and twenty leaders over the people and over those he appointed three governors. Out of those three, Daniel distinguished himself above the other two governors.
If anyone could have come up with some good reasons to live a mediocre live, you would think Daniel and his friends could have. Let’s help them out with a few examples. How about “God allowed us to be brought to this pagan land so there is nothing I can do about it.” Then there is “This is not even a Christian country and the leaders are not Christian so there is nothing I can do about it.” Or, how about “Look at all of our fellow Jews, they are going with the flow and acting like pagans, so why should I try to follow the Lord if no one else is?” Finally, he could go with this one: “My boss is not even a Christian so there is no need for me to go out of my way, I will just do enough to get by.”
Of course, there are many other such lines that could be used to justify just getting by, but Daniel took an entirely different approach to life that applies to our life today as well. It does not matter where you find yourself or what anyone else chooses to do with their life, you have the opportunity to live your life to the fullest for the glory of God. After all, it is He who has made you and not you yourself. Even if you find yourself surrounded by people who do not fear God, you can maintain an excellent spirit and thus distinguish yourself above all of your peers.
It could lead to persecution (more likely to than not!) and in the case of Daniel, that is what happened. Those who were jealous of him knew the only way to come up with something against him was to get a law passed that contradicted Daniel’s faith. They did, and it seemed as if it would be the end of Daniel. Instead, just as Daniel honored God, so did God honor him and kept him safe in the lion’s den! The result was a decree by the king that everyone must honor the God of Daniel. Because of his excellent spirit, Daniel prospered even in the worst of circumstances.
Choose to maintain an excellent spirit in all you do. Choose to live your life for the glory of God no matter what anyone else chooses. Be the best you can be at everything you do, as you do it unto the Lord and not for the sake of others. God created you for great things, for you are created in the image of our great God. For all of the reasons that present themselves to you for slacking off, you always have one reason not to — Jesus. There were no half-measures with Him, He was all in for you. He is our perfect example of an excellent spirit. Choose to be all God created you to be. Live each moment with an excellent spirit!
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