Tidings for Tuesday

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel 3:18

Do you know how Christians gather for fellowship in North Korea? It’s nothing like the way Christians gather in the free world! On a Sunday, a North Korean Christian goes to a park and sits on a bench. Another Christian comes along, and also sits on the bench. If there is any uncertainty in either’s mind, or if other people are nearby, no words will be spoken; they simply share a few minutes of being in each other’s company. If they are alone, and if they are sure of each other’s identity, one will quote a Bible verse, the other will share a prayer request, and within a few minutes, they both move on to seek encounters with other Christians. Thousands die in that land simply for the ‘crime’ of being a Christian. Execution is even more certain if the Christian is found to have a Bible. These brave martyrs could understand today’s text, and the response these three lads gave to the king.

These young Hebrew men were confident that God would preserve them from the furnace. But their confidence went even further. They acknowledged that it might not be God’s will that they be preserved, but if that were so, they were still prepared to defy the king’s command. They would not, could not, bow to the image and worship it. Not even death could shake them from that resolve. No furnace could be hot enough to cause them to deny their God and bow to an idol. The words ‘but if not’ show how deep their resolve was, and how much they were willing to pay to remain faithful to their God. Would we be so willing to pay a cost for our faith?

Martyrdom is currently not a serious threat to Christians in our land. But Christians still have a price to pay to be faithful to God and to His Word. Some Christians could earn more money than they do by being just a bit more lax in their business scruples. Some Christians could live in nicer homes and have bigger cars if they didn’t sacrifice so much of their income to provide their children with a Christian education. Some Christians get the cold shoulder from neighbours and relatives because they don’t condone immorality or liquor. Some Christians are ignored or overlooked because they refuse to step on others’ toes to obtain a position or promotion. These saints know the cost of the words ‘but if not’, and they willingly pay it.

Christians willing to say ‘but if not’ are more likely to hear their Saviour say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’. – Jim MacIntosh

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