Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Importance of Honest Friends

I've really been thinking about how to answer Jenn (and thank you to Steven for your bravery in sharing). Here's what I've come up with as I've looked at the question and at the text of Daniel 4.

Nebuchadnezzar struggles with pride, but he doesn't know it. He says, "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous" (Daniel 4:4). He thinks he's got it all together and doesn't realize how close he is to losing it all.

But God knows.

And God wants Nebuchadnezzar to know, too. So, the king has a bad dream and is troubled by it. He can't figure out what it means, but he feels pretty certain that it's important. No one can help him until Daniel comes along.

Now, Daniel knows that the dream is not good news for the king. And this is frightening to Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar does not have a good track record of dealing with bad news. Daniel is probably afraid that bad news for the king equals bad news for Daniel. So, he hesitates.

But the king tells him, "It's okay. Go ahead and tell me the truth" (v. 19 -- my paraphrase).

And Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar the truth. The king is not wise enough at this point to act on the truth, but he has it in his possession and that is eventually what saves him.

The king could have told Daniel, "I don't want to hear it if it's not good." But he didn't say that. He was willing to hear the truth, and that -- in the long run -- was his salvation.

So, Jenn, I can't say whether you struggle with pride or not. I know you pretty well, and you don't strike me as a prideful person. But I'm not really in community with you. I don't go through life with you day in and day out, so I can't really say.

Here's the question for you (and the rest of us as well): Do you have a Daniel in your life? Someone who knows you well enough to tell you the truth even if it's bad news?

If not, maybe you could ask God to bring you a Daniel. If you have someone like that, have you ever done what Nebuchadnezzar does here and given that person permission to tell you the truth with no consequences?

There's nothing in the world like a good friend who will tell you the truth.