June 16 - A Questionable Life, Part 3
When King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, he took many young men captive to bring into his own service. The king had a particular vision for what kind of young man he wanted and how he wanted them trained up:
Daniel 1:4-5 …young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
The King’s specific vision didn’t leave a lot of room for deviation on the part of the captives. Conforming was the pressure of Babylon. But then along came Daniel. He followed God’s laws and wouldn’t let anything stop him from doing so, not even threat of death from the King. Daniel knew the meals wouldn’t have been prepared according to God’s law, so he wasn’t going to allow it into his body.
Daniel 1:8-16 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. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
We know Daniel’s character and his relationship with God, so we know he would have taken the time to pray before he did anything else. Then when the time came to address his concerns, Daniel didn’t whine that he was being oppressed. He didn’t demand to be treated in a certain way. He respectfully and reasonably laid out his request to the chief official, Ashpenaz, treating him like a fellow human made in the image of God.
How would we have handled the situation? If everyone else is eating a delicious meal, would we have the courage to stand firm in our faith and go against the flow? And when we’re feeling oppressed, judged, treated unfairly or downright wronged, how easy would it be to forget that the person inflicting this on us is a child of God? Take a close look at what Daniel did:
He refused to conform at the expense of his faith.
He handled the situation with humility and respect.
He had total faith that God would allow the vegetables and water to nourish them better than the king’s food nourished the other servants.
Let’s allow Daniel’s response to Ashpenaz to be a model for us. When others see we aren’t conforming to the world around us, but that we are living for something bigger than the acceptance of those around us, they’ll want to know why we are different. We should all strive to honor our Father by leading a questionable life just like Daniel.