“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8 NKJV.
Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy.
My thoughts and comments today are about being “purposeful.”
Life will present situations confronting you with decisions which can impact and shape your future, for better or worse. Life is simpler when you predetermine what options are acceptable or unacceptable to you. Wise decisions are rarely made in the emotions of a challenging circumstance. Consequential decisions are best made well before moments of immediacy. There are issues of integrity, honesty, and morality that are best settled well before they are pressured by expediency.
After the siege and subsequent defeat of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, along with most of the best and brightest of his nation, were taken as captives to Babylon. See 2 Kings 24:10-16. Everyone has heard of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” There is much about prospering in adverse circumstances that can be learned from Daniel. There were subtle yet more dangerous things than lions that Daniel would face in Babylon. Daniel prospered without compromising either his faith or personal integrity. How did this young Israelite, taken captive in his youth, become a trusted counselor and confidant to multiple rulers of Babylon? Read Daniel 1:3-7 NKJV.
(1) Daniel experienced displacement – separated forcibly from every place familiar and everyone supportive. Nebuchadnezzar instructed, ”Bring young men . . who had ability to serve in the King’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.” Vs. 3-4. Your sense of place and person are significant. The intent was clear – eradication of Daniel’s history and radical re-education of his beliefs and behavior. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV/Romans 8:28-29 NIV. The issue is influence; stay connected to the people and places you know best and trust most. Wise decisions are best made in good company.
(2) Daniel refused to modify his appetites – provided with tastes and extravagance he could not provide himself. “And the King appointed for them a daily provision of the King’s delicacies . . and three years of training, so that . . they might serve the King.” Vs. 5/9-16. The issue is dependence; be wary of strong desires independent of Godly provision. The enemy will promise you what you don’t have; only later do you discover it was really what you don’t need.
(3) Daniel resisted a compromised identity – his name, connecting him to his family and religious heritage, was changed from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Vs. 6-7. The intent was diabolical, to alter his security in who he had been and establish a Babylonian identity. The issue is allegiance; do not be confused about your identity and destiny in Christ.
Faced with pressures to conform greater than will likely confront you or I, Daniel held a firm conviction, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . .” Daniel 1:8 NKJV. Compromise is never an acceptable option. See 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV. To succeed in your spiritual life, you have be purposeful. When you “purpose in your heart not to defile [yourself],” every other decision becomes simpler. As a teen, I learned to sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” There is nothing behind – or ahead of me – that I desire more than Jesus.
My prayer for you today is that your heart will be set fully on pleasing God.