The Offense of Defensiveness

 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.  But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Daniel 3:13-18 NLT

Every time I read this passage I am always impressed by the courage of these very young men.  They were faced with a choice to save their lives and they chose to honor God by refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's image.  Recently however, I have seen a deeper level of courage with these men.  They were willing to face a situation defenseless.  There was ample reason for them to justify their actions and to point to the king's self-serving advisors as having a hateful agenda.  They could have chosen to be condescending to the king and disrespectfully defiant.  They could have pointed to others in the kingdom who may not have been bowing as well.  They, however, chose to step with courage and declare that they would not defend themselves.  They would not build a wall of defense so high around them to convince the king that they were right.

Sometimes we do that.  We don’t trust in God’s ability to defend us so we construct a defensive wall around our hearts and emotions reasoning that it will protect us from external harm.  We keep some of the bricks that we are using to build this wall so that we can toss them by pointing to others and deflecting blame.  We operate in classic defensiveness.  Our action usually backfires, and our lack of vulnerability injures those who are closest to us.  Like these young men, our prayer should be that God continues to show us that he is our ultimate defender. 

I am not suggesting that we live in the delusion that there is an absence of people and things intended for our harm.  My lived experience tells me otherwise.  People have harmed us in the past and to be naturally cautious and protective is normal and understandable.  Our business, however, is not to build walls of protection around ourselves but to tear down those that exist and depend on the Lord’s defenses.  To do otherwise is to isolate ourselves from the nurturing relationships that we need for our flourishing.  The Bible says that "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust" (Psalm 91;1-2).  This is true defense. 

Take the action to thank God for always pointing to that place of his safety as you are about to launch into self-constructed defensiveness.

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