When King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he ransacked the city, destroyed the Jewish temple and desecrated their religious symbols. He took away their treasures and enslaved the brightest and best of Judah’s young men, including Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The king gave these young men new Babylonian names and enlisted them in training to read and write the language of Babylon. He planned to indoctrinate them into the Babylonian culture. Daniel didn’t object when the new names were given, although, his Jewish name and that of his friends reflected their spiritual heritage. However, when it was decided that the prisoners would eat the royal menu from the king’s table, Daniel resolved not to defile himself with food that had been dedicated to pagan gods. That would insult the name of God. God gave Daniel wisdom and caused him to find favor with the king’s attendant Ashpenaz. Daniel asked for a special diet of vegetables and water for 10 days, and that Ashpenaz then compare the health of Daniel and his friends to the other students eating the king’s food. The diet was successful and Daniel was able to maintain his integrity and not defile himself. He did this without causing a rebellion, yet he stood out at every meal because he remained faithful to his spiritual identity. He did the right thing in the right way.
Dan 1:4-8, 12-13, 19; Ro 12:2; Eph 6:13; Phil 4:8; 1 Pe 1:15-16
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Dan 1:8) Be holy in everything you do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose you. In the Scriptures God says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pe 1:15-16)
Daniel’s success is marked by his pre-determined resolve not to defile himself. He decided in his heart what he would not do. Had he waited until he was hungry and the food was placed in front of him, he most likely would have failed. The key to success in almost every area of our Christian journey is to decide ahead of time what we will and will not do. You cannot be a sort-of-Christian and have spiritual success. You may not even have that much success in the world if you don’t have a pre-determined plan for your life and business dealings. You must decide ahead of time that you will be a person of integrity in your business life. You must decide ahead of time that your marriage is a priority and that you will not risk infidelity by entertaining close friendships with persons of the opposite sex. You must decide ahead of time that you will be in church every week, practice daily devotions, prayer and Bible reading. If you wait until Sunday morning to decide whether or not to go to church, you probably won’t go. Having a personal relationship with anyone requires time, planning and commitment. It is the same with Jesus Christ. If he is a priority, if your faith is a priority, you will decide ahead of time what you will and will not do, and when that moment of decision comes you can follow through. You’ll only be as successful as what you decide ahead of time. Do the right thing in the right way.
What do you need to resolve to do? What do you need to resolve not to do? How has failing to decide something in advance gotten you into problems? How has deciding something in advance helped you avoid problems? Have you ever done the right thing in the wrong way? What happened? How do Christians doing the right thing in the wrong way cause damage to those new to the faith and those who are seeking? Do you stand out? Explain.
Make some decisions about how you will stand when temptations arise. Ask God to give you strength to stick by your decisions. Resolve to spend time each day with Christ (prayer, Bible reading, devotions & listening). Start with 10 minutes a day if you aren’t doing anything; or add 5 minutes a day to what you are doing.
Gracious God, I want to honor you and follow your word. Help me to respond and react in ways that are pleasing to you. Reveal the weaknesses in my life and give me strength as I decide in advance that I will be God-honoring! Walk with me each day. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.