The Best in Their Class


As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. Daniel 1:17-21 ESV

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:3-8 ESV


Matteo Ricci was a Jesuit priest and a missionary to China long ago in the sixteenth century. He was a very intelligent man who not only learned the Chinese language very well, but also learned about Chinese culture. He read the important literature of China and learned how to follow the manners of the people. He was respected by the most important people of China because he respected them and learned from them. He dressed like a Chinese scholar instead of like a Jesuit priest so that he would fit in better with the people he had come to serve. He taught Chinese scholars about astronomy and geography, and they admired his learning. He taught many important people in China about Christianity, and some of them became Christians. God used Matteo Ricci’s  intelligence and willingness to learn about another culture to draw some Chinese people to himself.

God also used the intelligence of Daniel and his friends to give them important positions in the Babylonian empire. They studied the language of Babylon as well as its literature, and they learned so well that when they had finished their studies they knew more than all the magicians and enchanters of the kingdom. The culture of Babylon thought that dreams and visions were very important, and God gave Daniel the ability to understand these as well. King Nebuchadnezzar was very impressed with Daniel and his friends, and they became some of his advisers. God would work through these four young men to give Nebuchadnezzar and others a witness to the true God.

God gives all of his people gifts and talents to use to serve others, and he works through us to help others see his love. Not everyone is intelligent and good at learning like Matteo Ricci and Daniel, but God gives everyone a place to serve and people to love and work to do. The place we have and the people God gives us to serve and the work he gives us to do are called our vocation. You might have the vocation of son or daughter, brother or sister, friend or student, and over time God might give you other vocations. Whatever God gives you to do, he will work with you and help you. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to be your Savior and forgive your sins and call you his own, and whatever other gifts he gives you, he gives you the greatest gift of all–love. We work and serve others to show them the great love that God has shown us in Jesus.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me work to do and people to love. Help me work and serve others for Jesus’ sake. In His Name, Amen.