March 27 I Wednesday
“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 in this way.” —Daniel 1:8
It might surprise us where Daniel and his friends drew their moral line in the sand. They were open to studying in the king’s court and learning the language and literature of Babylon. They did not fight the name change imposed on them, even though it was an attempt to reorient their faith around the Babylonian gods. If Daniel and his friends did not resist these attacks on their identity and faith, what drove them to resolve not to eat the meat and wine of the king’s table?
We might also ask on what basis we make our moral choices. How do we decide what is permissible and what is off-limits? For some, it comes down to what feels right or comfortable. Some decide based on what they think is best for them, while others look for what causes the least conflict with their neighbour. But as Christians, we know that right and wrong are rooted in God’s character and are clearly laid out in Scripture. This is why we must be immersed in His Word and abiding in Him, for this is where we discover not only what is right but the strength to walk in it.
The moral issue for Daniel and his friends was that the food of the king’s table had been offered up to idols. Not only would eating this food be a violation of the Jewish dietary laws, but it would be participating in idolatrous worship practices, which is the very reason the Israelites had been exiled from Jerusalem in the first place. God had warned His people for years to turn from worshipping idols, but they did not listen. Knowing this word of the Lord, perhaps as Daniel made the journey to Babylon, he determined in his heart, “I will never again eat or touch anything offered to an idol. I resolve not to be defiled by those things.”
It is often when we have blown it spiritually and are tasting the salty tears of our bad decisions that we are moved to repentance and resolve never to give certain sins an inch in our lives again. It can take realizing the gravity of our failures before we become open to God working resolve into our hearts. This is no guarantee of perfection, but what this resolve can produce is perseverance. We will discover a tenacity for righteousness as the Spirit aligns us with God’s character, desires and purposes.
Failure does not mean God is finished with us, just as He was not finished with Daniel and his friends when they were taken into exile. Failure can actually be the beginning of a resolve to hold firmly to Christ, His Word and His character.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You that You continue to work through us despite our failures. Forgive me of my sins, and produce within me a resolve to live righteously before You.