“Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up’” (Daniel 3:16-18).
Unconditional obedience is the trademark of mature faith.
In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks of people who hear the gospel and initially respond with joy, only to turn away when persecution arises. Tragically, that’s a common occurrence today that is caused by preachers who promise health, wealth, prosperity, and special miracles to all who believe. People who embrace such error are not prepared for the cost of discipleship (cf. Matt. 16:24; John 15:20).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego understood what it meant to serve God unconditionally. They knew He could move in their defense if it pleased Him to do so, but their faith was not dependent on miracles or any other special benefits they might receive from Him. They stood on convictions and deferred to His will even when doing so brought the threat of a fiery death. Their attitude was that of Christ Himself as He faced the agony of the cross and prayed, “Father . . . not as I will, but as Thou wilt’” (Matt. 26:39).
Their response to King Nebuchadnezzar’s ultimatum may sound arrogant or disrespectful, but they were simply acknowledging that they had nothing to say in their own defense. They had served him faithfully as far as they could, but serving his gods and bowing down to his image was out of the question. God forbids any form of idolatry, and they would not be coerced or intimidated into disobeying Him.
Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, your faith in God isn’t measured by whether or not He rescues you from a difficult situation, but by your willingness to trust and obey Him unconditionally.
Suggestions for Prayer
Express your love to the Lord and your desire to serve Him faithfully despite the circumstances.
For Further Study
Read Matthew 13:1-23. What response does each soil represent?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.