Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 30, 2019
Then Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was severely distressed for a while. His thoughts terrified him. Daniel 4:19
As a pastor, I frequently find myself in conversation with men and women who are wrestling with the big questions of life and how to be faithful to God and the relationships they find themselves in. More times than I can count, I’ve found people caught between compassion for someone and a desire to avoid conflict on the one hand, yet on the other knowing they need to have a hard and painful conversation with the person they love. In these moments, I often ask the simple question, “What is the most loving thing to do?”
Love for God and neighbor demands that we speak truth with boldness and great compassion. Daniel, though an exile in a strange and foreign land, had found great favor in the courts of the king and sought his flourishing and well-being. It brought Daniel no pleasure to interpret a dream telling of the coming judgment and the king’s demise. As he said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you, and its interpretation for your enemies!” (Daniel 4:19). Yet for Daniel, a hard word spoken with compassion and clarity was the most loving thing he could do for the king.
Notice that the king invites Daniel’s honest answer (see Daniel 4:18). Relationships built on mutual trust are able to bear the weight of conflict. They find a way to move from a place of sinful brokenness into the gift of repentance and new life. Repentance literally means to turn around, which is precisely the exhortation given to the king by Daniel. “Therefore, O king, may my counsel be acceptable to you: atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged” (Daniel 4:27).
You may have a hard word of truth that you know must be shared with someone in your life, possibly even someone in a place of power over you. Before rushing into that conversation, go before the Lord in prayer to ensure your heart seeks their good rather than your own self-justification or vindication. Your message can be right yet your heart can be entirely wrong! Likewise, you may be in a position of power yet blind to your own sins and shortcomings. Invite trusted counsel into your life and surround yourself with people who will speak truth in love. It is for your good and is God’s kindness and mercy in your life.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
Father, give us relationships defined by truth telling and compassionate love, that we might be evermore conformed into your likeness and live in alignment with your Kingdom. Amen.
Do you have relationships in your life where you can give and receive hard words of truth?
In humility surround yourself with people who will speak truth in love. #WisdomHunters #truth #Jesus
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