HOW TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE
“…we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth.”
There’s a raging fire burning deep in the woods. I spot an empty bucket and fill it with water, pouring the contents on the flame over and over again. Wind comes and fuels the fire, causing it to spread as far as my eyes can see. Nothing will quench it.
I see a firefighter standing in the midst of the forest fire, though he is fast asleep. I widen my aperture and realize hundreds… no, tens of thousands of people are sleeping while the fire rages around them. I have options. I can continue to try to extinguish these expanding flames, but that doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. Then I think, What if I awakened the sleepers? What if I speak truth into the firefighters, helping them to see who they really are and what they have in their buckets? Our numbers become strengthened. Together, we have a chance of stopping the fires of injustice, oppression, and addiction as we continue speaking the truth to others in love, creating a great awakening.
I’ve had this dream many times before. Speaking truth in love is the medicine that will cure most of the world’s ailments. The language of love opens blind eyes and deaf ears. It is the most powerful, universal language in the world. It’s the language Jesus spoke while communing with the marginalized of society and the criminals of His day.
But how can I speak this language when all I hear is hatred and fear around me? Some of the best secrets I’ve found to answering this question are in the book of Daniel.
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Daniel is famous for his wisdom, prophetic insight, and the incredible influence he had in the highest places in government. But just imagine his backstory for a minute. From a young age, he was taken from his family and planted into the enemy’s camp. Daniel and his three friends had names with significant, Godly meaning (“God is my judge,” “who is like God,” etc). They were given new names—Belteshazzar (Daniel), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—and suddenly they are named after the Babylonian gods Bel, Aku, and Nebo.
Nebuchadnezzar was trying to prove that his gods were greater than the God that Daniel and his friends served. He tried to give them new identities; in Biblical times, names often dictated a person’s character, traits, and significance. He tried to force them to adhere to Babylonian culture, throwing them into training with witch doctors and pushing them to eat their unclean food.
But when you know who you are, you are rooted and grounded in love, and you become the force that changes culture. The culture around you has no power to change your identity.
Daniel was a covert influencer who changed the environment from the inside out. Throughout his life, we can see how the language he spoke and the actions he took shaped society:
Daniel prayed and listened to God when faced with any crisis.
Daniel prayed after receiving bad news. When King Nebuchadnezzar issued an order to execute all of his royal advisers, Daniel and his friends prayed and received wisdom. When King Darius signed an order that nobody could request anything from any god other than him, Daniel prayed, “just as he had always done.” He wasn’t ashamed, either. He prayed in front of open windows where people could see him, in a culture that rejected God.
Daniel’s prayers were so significant that God sent an angel to tell him, “God has heard your prayers ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in order to gain understanding.” (Dan 10:12) As a result, the angel came to give him strategy and vision for the future.
Daniel chose his words carefully.
After King Nebuchadnezzar issued a country-wide execution, Daniel “chose his words carefully” and requested more time from Arioch, the lead executioner. He received wisdom after praying, and explained to the king that God could not only interpret his dream, but describe the dream to him. As he described the dream and its interpretation, his words deeply impacted the king because they were true and accurate. It impressed the king so much that Daniel and his friends were promoted to one of the highest places in government.
Daniel was not willing to compromise.
Before Daniel was recognized by any person of power, Ashpenaz—Nebuchadnezzar’s chief official—taught him Babylonian culture and issued the king’s order to eat his food and drink his wine. Daniel approached Ashpenaz to request help, and God made him sympathetic. However, Ashpenaz’s fear of the king prevented him from helping Daniel.
Daniel would not compromise, so he approached the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. He was given favor again, and God gave him the strategy to ask for 10 days to eat clean food. In that time, he and his friends appeared stronger than any one of the king’s men, so he was allowed to follow God’s orders over the king’s for the next three years.
Daniel spoke honor, even when he was terribly dishonored.
Each time Daniel spoke to the four kings he served under, he addressed them by their respected title, “Your Majesty.” Love was so perfected in his heart that when he had bad news to deliver, he said, “Your Majesty, I wish that the dream and its explanation applied to your enemies and not to you!” (Dan 4:19). I can only imagine how these loving words softened the king’s hard heart.
Daniel’s consistent display of honor and love caused the kings he served under to respect and even befriend him. Daniel was especially close with King Darius, so it must have come as quite a blow when the king—out of duty—commanded Daniel to be thrown in with the lions for violating his own law. But instead of harboring resentment, he responded to the king the next morning with honor when he inquired of his wellbeing: “I’m fine, thanks for asking! May you live forever, king! God rescued me since I’m innocent!” I can imagine Daniel playing fetch with the lions that night or curling up in their long manes, sleeping well in the midst of his enemies. Again, Daniel was promoted after this whole ordeal.
Daniel spoke the truth without fear.
Daniel lived with a confidence to tell the truth in love without fear of the consequences. He didn’t water down the news the Lord led him to give. The kings Daniel served under would kill people for delivering bad news! But they treated Daniel with favor, promoting him even when he interpreted dreams or writings that prophesied the destruction of the kingdoms he served.
Imagine what Daniel’s situation would look like today. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar is similar to the emir of ISIS. He was quick to anger and issued barbaric punishments over anyone who disagreed with him. Daniel was like the child soldiers of ISIS today, kidnapped and recruited, brainwashed, and forced to do their bidding.
God didn’t tell Daniel to honor a king like this because he did anything to deserve honor. The language of heaven is love. God knew that if Daniel spoke love to the harshest, most evil leader, it could change him.
Could this happen today if a Daniel spoke to the leaders of ISIS? Or dictators? Or the people around you that drive you crazy? Would we speak what we see on the outside (His policies are awful! He’d be great if he had some character…)? Or would we speak about them in love? Speaking the truth in love could be the catalyst that causes them to wake up. Then they can help you fight the fires in this world.
Will you be one of the firefighters?