Should I Give In?
“Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief eunuch not to defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8 CSB)
Having been taken into captivity and fully immersed in the life and culture of Babylon, one of the struggles facing Daniel was working out what it meant to remain faithful to God in this new situation where He had placed him. Everywhere he turned, there were threats and temptations that could easily lead him astray.
How did Daniel handle this challenge? The text tells us that “Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank” (verse 8). Daniel firmly resolved in his heart that remaining faithful to God meant that he needed to avoid eating the food and drinking the wine that was offered to him.
What was the big deal anyway? Why was he so resolute about this? Most likely the food being served to Daniel would have been considered “unclean” according to the law of Moses (Leviticus 11). Eating it would mean defiling himself. It may have also been food that had been first offered in worship to the Babylonian gods. In that case, to consume the food and drink could have been perceived by Daniel as participating in idolatrous practices. So he took a significant risk and asked not to participate, even if it put his life in danger with the king.
In many ways, our culture is very similar to what Daniel experienced. Everywhere we turn, some things threaten to jeopardize our faith and lead us away from God. One of the great tensions that we face as kingdom-driven followers of Jesus is how to engage with the culture around us without being compromised by it. Jesus has told us to be “the salt of the earth” without losing our saltiness (Matthew 5:13). We are to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8) while we “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12). How do we effectively carry out the gospel mission while at the same time pursuing a life of purity and holiness? What does faithfulness to God look like?
Like Daniel, it begins with a decision in our hearts. It requires a firm resolve to live a life without compromise while we pursue the mission of Jesus Christ around us. This is no small task. It requires the help of the Holy Spirit. But as we depend on Him, God promises to give us the strength we need to remain faithful and to do all that He calls us to do.
*Originally posted on www.kingdomdrivendaily.com. Used by permission.