Scripture Reading: Daniel 6:1-5
“Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom.” (Daniel 6:3,4a)
The Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes and Persians. However, Daniel remained in a major leadership role under the Medes and the Persians. Darius, who is called the king in this passage, was most likely one of the most powerful generals under King Cyrus of Persia. He had been given the assignment of establishing a new government in Babylon. Darius realized that Daniel was an exceptional leader. Therefore he planned to set Daniel over the whole kingdom (v. 3).
The other leaders, who were filled with selfish ambition, became exceedingly jealous of Daniel. They began to examine everything Daniel did in hopes of finding some error or fault in him. However, they could find none. So they resorted to an evil plan to destroy Daniel — “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (v. 5). Motivated by jealousy, these leaders were determined to do whatever they could to bring Daniel down. They knew that Daniel was a man of great faith, so they tricked the king into making a law that prevented anyone from praying to any god of man for thirty days. People could only make a petition to the king. The punishment for violating this law was the lion’s den (v. 7).
It is amazing how powerful jealousy can be. Jealous people do evil and destructive things. Jealousy brings bitterness to the soul and it is destructive to the one who is jealous. It can also bring great pain on others as a jealous person seeks to hurt those who are the subjects of his jealousy. Jealousy produces bitterness, wrath and anger. It leads to slander and in extreme cases physical harm. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:14). Proverbs warns against jealousy — “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4).
When we sense any jealous thoughts, we must deal with them quickly because they can lead to destructive bitterness and anger. “But if you have jealousy and selfish ambition in your hears, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic…But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:14,15,17).
Lord Jesus, keep me from selfish ambition and jealousy. Enable me to be faithful to You and to Your Word. Give me Your wisdom that comes from above and enable me to be peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. I can’t produce these qualities in myself; I must trust You to give them to me. Let me celebrate the accomplishments of others and not be jealous of them. Let me rejoice with those how have success and not be envious of them.
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