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You Have What You Tolerate

By O.S. Hawkins

It is interesting to note who was there. The Bible refers to the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces . . . (Daniel 3:2) In other words, all the big shots had gathered. Like a bunch of rubber stamps with no character and no integrity, they all bowed down to the image, surrendering to the peer pressure at hand. After all, they must have thought, "We have to keep our jobs." There are a lot of young people in our contemporary culture out on the plain of Dura today. They have bought into the philosophy that tells them they will not be popular unless they go along with the crowd, unless they bow down with the others. After all, they're convinced that everyone else is doing it so why not go ahead and bow down. There are a lot of men and women in the business world today trying to get ahead out there on the plain of Dura. Peer pressure is prevalent in our contemporary culture.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have rationalized and reasoned like a lot of men and women do today. They could have said, "Nebuchadnezzar has treated us pretty well all these years. He has appointed us to positions of honor. He has empowered us with a good education and a good job. If we don't bow down we'll look pretty unappreciative. After all, we're here in Babylon now and when in Babylon we should do as the Babylonians do. Anyway, the end justifies the means. It's all situational anyway." But if you read the text you will notice that there's not a hint of this type of attitude anywhere in their minds. These three young men never entertained one of those thoughts. They had already decided which way they were going to turn before they reached this intersection in life.

There was a tremendous amount of pressure on these young Hebrews to conform. "Go ahead," others told them, "get out there on the plain with them. There are thousands of others out there." And then it happened. The band began to play and everyone bowed down. Everyone out there on the plain of Dura bowed down . . . except three young men. They stood out like three sore thumbs that day on the plain of Dura. When the music starts and we feel our own peer pressure, we will do one of two things. If we're controlled by the Word we will respond with conviction. If we're controlled by the world we will respond with compromise. On the plain of Dura this week we will find ourselves in one of these two groups. Look at all those people out there on the plain of Dura. They did not know how to live with pressure. Peer pressure said to bow down so they all compromised. But three young men stood up! How could they? Their lives were governed by inner principle and not outer pressure. They had learned how to live with pressure. Too many of us are not engaging our culture today because we have not learned this lesson. We have bought in to the peer pressure of the pluralism of our day and we have what we tolerate.

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