How often do we catch ourselves walking around with our chest stuck out, maybe even strutting a little? We may hold our head a little higher, thinking that we’ve got it all figured out. Sometimes we may even think we’re on top of the world. We are someone that others look up to. We are smart. We are important. We have skills. We’ve made ourselves a nice little life, and we’re going enjoy living in it.
Most all of us have felt like that at some point in our lives. When life’s going good, we are easily tempted to want to soak in some glory. It may not be something we experience much, so when it does actually happen, it has a very rewarding feeling.
But do we ever stop and think about how we got to that point? It’s like our mind is saying to us, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” It’s a very American trait to want to swell with pride for what we perceive as our own accomplishments. About 6 years ago during a campaign speech, President Barack Obama made a statement that caused a major blow to his campaign. Taken out of context, he said “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” His opponents flocked to this like wildfire and used it against him. However, the point of his entire speech was to say that even though our own hard work and initiative are great for our individual success, there is an entire network of resources that have been provided to us by the hard work of others.
From a spiritual standpoint, if things are going well and we seem to be floating on Cloud 9, do we ever stop to think who else has a hand to play in the “success” we may be experiencing? At the beginning of the book of Daniel, we find Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) taking part in what can only be described as a fast-track training program to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. They were already seen as being part of the best-of-the-best from the children of Israel that were taken into Babylonian captivity (Daniel 1:3-4). But even within that group, they came out as top of their class (Daniel 1:19-20). When King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that he needed interpreted, Daniel owned it. He had a certain skill set that no one else seemed to have: an “understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17).
Daniel went before Nebuchadnezzar to tell him his dream and then interpret it for him. From the viewpoint of the king, Daniel was good. Daniel could have very easily walked into the king’s presence with an air of cockiness, with his head held high and his chest puffed out. However, when Daniel started to speak, listen to what he said.
“The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days…But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.” [Daniel 2:27-28, 30]
In a single statement, Daniel turned all the attention away from himself and to the One who was in control…God. He could have easily taken the credit for the interpretation. He could have gained himself a right-hand position with the King and punched his ticket to political stardom. But instead, he didn’t see himself as anything special. He only saw himself as a tool that was being used by God. Because of his humble attitude, King Nebuchadnezzar made the statement, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets…” [Daniel 2:47]
How many of us would have turned the attention straight to God like Daniel did? Better yet, how many of us truly understand that when things are going right spiritually and we seem to have everything under control, it is really God that has everything under control? We are only the tool to carry out the work that He has set before us (Ephesians 2:10; Isaiah 64:8).