As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. – Daniel 1:17-21
Daniel and his friends had knowledge and understanding, and chose to employ that knowledge and understanding only within the bounds of godly wisdom. They chose to keep a deep and reverent fear of God as the primary filter for all their decisions and actions they take. The fear of the Lord, a love for him and trust in his goodness, faithfulness, and love will be the sine qua non for every facet of their life – even in a foreign land and under a pagan king.
Add to that God’s gift of understanding of dreams and visions. That will come in handy in the later developments of this story. But none of what is to come will be possible if Daniel and his friends do not remain faithful to God and put fear of him in the forefront of the very earliest of their decisions.
We Lutherans are sometimes almost obsessive about the grace of God being the only means by which we are saved. We go to great lengths to point out that nothing we do saves us; it’s only through God’s grace received by faith that we are saved. This is most certainly true.
It is also true that God’s work in this world is aided by people who believe in God’s promises and align their actions, decisions, and words to that truth. People who take God seriously, and trust his word implicitly are those who will be part of God’s work – sometimes in amazing way. In the meantime, Daniel and his friends will take small steps without really knowing how they will be tested, and how God will intervene.
If we want to make an impact for God’s rule and reign in the world, we must dedicate ourselves to obedience in the smaller matters of faithfulness. God will see to it that we fulfill our purpose and live into our destiny if we start in the simple and early acts of faithfulness – where we are today.