Day 11

Hollow Pursuits

from the Daniel reading plan


Daniel 5:1-31, 1 John 2:15-17, Genesis 3:6, Matthew 4:3-8

BY Vivian Mabuni

I learned to read with lightening speed the small print on the back of every type of packaged food. My daughter’s food allergies prevented her from eating soy, eggs, dairy and peanuts. Though the foods took on different shapes and flavors, those possibly life-threatening ingredients managed to make their way into what seemed like everything.

In today’s Daniel reading, we are introduced briefly to the pride-filled king, Belshazzar. His irreverent act of drinking from the gold and silver cups, sacred vessels—made by Solomon (1 Kings 7:48-51) and later taken from the Jerusalem Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:10)— smacks of sacrilegious arrogance.

We find woven in Scripture three similar themes or ingredients of sin. John warns against loving the world’s system and summarizes the sin in three parts: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).

The same ingredients appear in the very first act of disobedience in Genesis, when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Take a look at Genesis 3:6: “The woman saw that the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh), “and that it was pleasant to the eyes” (lust of the eyes), “and a tree…to make one wise” (pride of life).

Jesus, when tempted by Satan in the wilderness after fasting 40 days, faced the same three opportunities to sin. Look at Matthew 4:3-8: Satan said to Jesus, “Command that these stones be made bread” (lust of the flesh). He showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory” (lust of the eyes). He also mocks Him, saying, “throw Yourself down. For it is written, He will give His angels charge concerning you” (pride of life).

Belshazzar, after the terrifying appearance of the hand, offers anyone who can decipher the writing on the wall similar ingredients of the world’s system: pleasures, possessions, and position (Daniel 5:7,16). But these things are ultimately hollow; when we put our trust in them, we are found wanting. The writing on the wall says as much (Daniel 5:26-27).

Sin looks different from person to person, but it is rooted in the same self-focused pride we see in Belshazzar. Like those pesky food ingredients my daughter must avoid, evidence of sin seems to be everywhere we turn. Our sinful hearts are bent toward pride and self-sufficiency, but God’s truth offers freedom.

Sisters, our perspective is renewed as we invest in reading and studying God’s Word. Note how Jesus responded when tempted in the wilderness: “It is written…” He continually looked to His Father and His Word for strength and sustenance. Our hearts become recalibrated to True North as we lift our eyes off of self and circumstances. When we trust God with our very life-breath, we can stand firm in the knowledge that He controls the whole course of our lives (Daniel 5:23b).

Father, help us. Lift our eyes off our circumstances and our hollow pursuits. Renew our minds through Your Word. Help us to see You clearly and know You more intimately. Help us walk in Your ways, filled with Your Spirit, with hearts surrendered and lives wholly Yours. Amen.

Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.

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84 thoughts on "Hollow Pursuits"

  1. Grace says:

    I truly enjoy the parallels between the Scriptures outlined in this reading…even after all this time, I still am bewildered by the consistency of the Word of Life.

    That being said, the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life are rampant in the OT, NT, and this week.

    Humbling oneself is a process, beginning with being meek enough to understand that we cannot humble ourselves…we always need a Hand to guide us.

    I hope I can grasp that Hand ever so tightly when I get in my own way…when I become entranced by the ways of the flesh-driven world, and when I begin to wear Belshazzar’s cloak of pride.

  2. Jenny says:

    Self-sufficiency synonymous w/ pride, in her words.
    Oi!
    Just shed tears over not being able to pay rent. This one is timely. Convicting. I don’t want to depend on anyone. Our world teaches this. Rough.

  3. Amanda says:

    Does the author pick the texts to read? Thank you, to whoever does. It was a blessing to see how they fit together.

  4. Britt says:

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to name my sins especially when it’s so overwhelming and I see it everywhere in me and my life but here you’ve really called it out: ” our hearts are bent toward pride and self-sufficiency…” My life and heart is consumed with this right now. “…but God’s truth offers freedom.” It’s hard to believe it but maybe looking can help.
    Thanks for being open and honest about our sin SRT. The gospel wouldn’t be so raw and rich without it. (Just preaching to myself here- don’t mind me!)

  5. Katherynn says:

    Looking at the Daniel 5 text, it's kind of incredible to see this man, Daniel, who is actually in captivity at the time walking in all of these (seemingly) coveted things.
    Daniel's surrender to God put him in a place of privilege – fine things to eat – knowledge (not just education, but knowledge of God and of things in the spirit) – influence
    He endured testing, responding with obedience, and receives the reward. And that beautiful example of Jesus enduring the testing and receiving all things from the Father instead of by His own hand.
    Ahhh! I need help with this in my life <3

  6. Sarah_Olsen says:

    I just keep going back over this in my head and I am in love with God's word. His message, spoken to me through SRT today, is so relevant in everything I do. I've often times struggled with identifying sin, or better yet, admitting sin. Sometimes I find that I justify it, or down play it, or compare it to others. From now on if I ever find myself trying to escape a sin, I think I will scan it for one of the three ingredients. They may not all be present, but one of them surely will peak its ugly head out. And when it does, I will repent and avoid from then on. Thanks again for this great message today!

  7. Sarah_Olsen says:

    Wow!!! I have been doing a study of the letters of John, and just recently covered 1 John 2:15-17. I guess even though I understood that there were three areas sin affected I never really grasped the concept that they are life-threatening ingredients until today's devotional. I am pretty much speechless as I realize that these three ingredients were present in the garden and even in Jesus' temptation. God's Word truly is living as each day it comes alive and my understanding changes and grows.
    I struggle so much with control. I am prideful and need to just let go. I need to be quick to spot these ingredients in my life so that I can divert from feeding my sinful nature. Praise the Lord for being there for us and for being so gracious. I absolutely love our God! Thank you sisters again, for such a great fellowship.

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