In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic,[a] “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” – Daniel 2:1-6
In every self-improvement project there is the what, the how, the when, the where, the who, and the why. Often the why determines how successfully one pursues the other elements of the plan. From losing weight to getting a better grasp on your finances to improving your grades at school the why is what keep a person going – pursuing the plan.
Sometimes the why is the threat of imminent trouble triggers a high level urgency toward an improvement plan. You get a letter from the dean, telling you that if your grades don’t improve, you’ll be out. Your doctor tells you that you have diabetes. You get a text from your bank: INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. IMPERATIVE THAT YOU MAKE A $100 DEPOSIT IMMEDIATELY.
Sometimes you need to act or else. But fear and duress seldom make for good long-term motivation. Nebuchadnezzar, however, has not only the possibility of doom if they fail, but also the promise of favor if these enchanters, magicians, and sorcerers deliver the good.
No matter how much his servants fear his punishment or yearn for his rewards, however, they come up short and realize that they are in an impossible situation. Plea as they will, however, the king continues his threats. Threats, in the end, will be the only way he can get what he wants.
There is great danger in ignoring the commandments of God, or living as though we are a god unto ourselves. Sometimes the threats of God’s wrath compel us to resist temptation or do good to someone. But God’s greatest motivation is his love. It moved him to redeem us. I moved him to sacrifice his Son for us. It moved him to promise to hear us when we pray. It moved us to give us the gift of abundant eternal life.
The spirit of fear held the hearts of the king’s servants in terror and dread. The Holy Spirit of God inspires his people to do good and honor God. The Holy Spirit is our true and great why for all of that which is true life.