Friday, September 17, 2010

Old Testament Grace: Daniel 1:8-14

We Christians often think of “grace” as something God gives us, but people can show grace towards each other. In fact, passages like Matthew 5:48 and 1 Corinthians 11:1 tell us to imitate Christ, and that would include showing favor to those under our care. For Hillary McFarland’s Journey to Grace project, I’m going to look at the Septuagint’s use of form charin in Daniel 1:8-14 (ESV):

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.

Directed by God, the chief of the eunuchs bestowed grace on Daniel. Rather than taking a “Do as your told” approach to management, he carefully explained his own responsibilities to the king and the risks he took having one of his charges underperforming. Rather than responding with anger that his orders weren’t followed, he listened to Daniel’s defense and agreed to a reasonable compromise. Tyranny isn’t God’s way for those in authority to rule (Matthew 20:24-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:24-26), and the chief of the eunuchs, an unbeliever, knew how to exercise compassion on those entrusted to him. Those of us who aim to be perfect like our Savior should do the same, giving undeserved grace to those under us because God has given grace to us (Matthew 18:15-35).