How many of our biggest regrets have come from what we overvalue or undervalue?
I’ve been thinking about this kind of question for months now. There was something wrong in my heart and my mind towards the end of last year and I couldn’t figure it out. But recently, I feel like God has been giving me insight into what was happening. I think I cared about some things too little and I cared about other things way too much. And it makes me wonder – is our biggest issue, individually and as a human race, the fact that we haven’t right-sized the value of things?
We give too much attention to insignificant things and not enough attention to the truly significant things in life. Some of us have overvalued work and others of us have undervalued work. Many of us have overvalued our material possessions and undervalued relationships. I think plenty of us have overvalued comfort and safety. And I believe that most of us humans tend to either undervalue ourselves or we overvalue ourselves.
What would happen if we started valuing everything according to what it was truly worth?
We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks in Daniel chapter 3, in what might be a very familiar story to many of you. But for today, I want to frame this teaching around the theme of how we value things, people, and God. And I’m calling this message, “What is Worth Your Worship?”
Daniel 3:1-18 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, sixty cubits high and six cubits wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it. Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold that was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. Why? Probably because this is what he saw during his chapter 2 dream. Can you say narcissist? And we’re thinking, “I would never do something that grandiose and self-obsessed.” Fair enough. But there’s a bit of Nebuchadnezzar inside all of us, which should lead to some reflection on this question:
How important is your image to you?
How much do you care about your reputation, the way others see you?
Where do you find your worth?
Recognition? Salary and benefits? People thinking you’re the expert in your field?
Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon. You would think that a prominent position like that would have been enough, but it wasn’t. There was something in him that caused him to need everyone else to inflate him. Was it insecurity? Was it imposter syndrome? Was it a self-esteem issue? Was it his evil desire to be superior to everyone else?
He invites everyone to come to the dedication and the command is issued. Worship this image or be immediately thrown into a blazing furnace. Again, Nebuchadnezzar has a slightly large ego.
Astrologers come forward to tell Nebuchadnezzar that some Jews refuse to worship him. Are they out to get these young men? Whatever the reason, these astrologers know what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are unwilling to do…even when everyone around them is doing it.
Do the people around you know what you’re not willing to do?
Do they know the lines you won’t go beyond?
Do they know what you’ll never compromise on?
Do they know what kinds of places you’d never walk into late at night, even if everyone on the team was going there?
The astrologers tell Nebuchadnezzar that these three young men are guilty of 3 specific things – they pay no attention to you, they do not serve your gods, and they do not worship the image of gold you have set up. Which of these three do you think bother Nebuchadnezzar the most?
There are some Jews who pay no attention to you. Now I’m sure these guys paid some attention to Nebuchadnezzar – he’s the king and we know they were intent on doing good work. We also know that they were gifted and skilled. But these guys aren’t giving Nebuchadnezzar the attention he wants.
What do you think our attention has to do with who or what we worship?
We will always give time and attention to who or what we worship most. And:
You are formed most by what you worship most.
“Because what you give your attention to is the person you become.” John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
So these three do not give proper attention to Nebuchadnezzar and this makes him so mad. Furious with rage, he has these guys brought in and he gives them a second chance. He’s like, “We’ll play the music just for you and give you another opportunity to comply with what’s commanded and what everyone else has been willing to do. And if you will fall down and worship, very good. But if not, you will be thrown into a blazing furnace.” And then he asks a question: Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?
Nebuchadnezzar sets himself over all gods, including the one true God. So much pride, power, control, and assuming he was the sovereign over all things and all people.
“We do not need to defend ourselves.” They were resolved. Why did they not need to take time and consider their response? Goes back to week 1, Daniel 1:8 – they were resolved in how they were going to live and even more, they were resolved in who they were going to worship.
Nebuchadnezzar’s like “What god is able?” 3 Guys – “Our God is more than able!”
Do you believe that God is able to rescue you from the fire or are you asking another god to do that?
The faith and the “even if” resolve of these men are both so inspiring to me.
If you are waiting for outcomes to see whether God is worthy of your worship, then He must not be.
Will you worship God whether He rescues you or not?
Because that will stand out to those around you.
“The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all, we step out of the world’s parade.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
You can undervalue or overvalue things. You can undervalue or overvalue people. You can undervalue God, but you can never overvalue God.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
This is the only kingdom we can live for that will never be shaken. The Babylonian empire? Gone. The Roman empire? Gone. The kingdom of God – forever.
Our worship is not for sale. We are orienting our entire lives around Jesus. If it cost us our job or our reputation or income or persecution or if it costs us our lives, we believe that Jesus is king. Our allegiance is to Him and His kingdom.
Is your worship up for grabs? What will you give up to follow Jesus? Is anything in your life so valuable to you that you would give Jesus up in order to have that thing? When push comes to shove, we only have one master. So think about this:
What is your family asking you to worship?
What are your friends asking you to worship?
What is the culture asking you to worship?
What is the media asking you to worship?
What is the city of San Francisco asking you to worship?
What is your industry asking you to worship?
What is your company asking you to worship?
What is your boss asking you to worship?
And what are you asking everyone around you to worship?
“A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving ‘face’ and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in Christian ministry. When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘codependency’ but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.” Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
Is what you worship worthy of your worship?
Does it hold up no matter what comes?
Does it last? Will it still be there in 10 years? 20 years? 100 years?
Jesus will. And you will acknowledge that at some point.
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Why not acknowledge this today?