Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daniel 1: REFUSE to compromise!

What defines YOU?

When others think of you, what comes to mind? Are there principles, beliefs, or values which are 'foundational' to the way you live?

I don't know about you, but when my life is nearing the end, I want to look back and know that I lived in such a way that everyone who knew me was clear on what I was 'about'.

For me, the number one thing--above all--is my relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

What about you? What are you living for?

In the Old Testament, we read about Daniel, a great man of God, who lived and uncompromsing and faithful life, even as the world around him changed dramatically.

The story starts out when Daniel is a teenager. The Babylonians come in and conquer Israel and Judah. They strategically take some of the best and brightest of the young people and take them away from home, family, everything they know. They take these teens and deport them to Babylon. There they begin to systematically re-program them. They change their names. They change their education. They try to change their diets.

"{the king's servant}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." (Daniel 1:4-5)

Interesting thing about a name: Even though names are important, they can't really define you. I had lots of 'nicknames' as a kid: the Captain, Root, Cheese, (all strange, I know)...but the nicknames didn't change me. They couldn't change who I was internally.

Daniel's name is changed to a Babylonian name: Belteshazzar. His friends are also given Babylonian names--each one at least partly representing a Babylonian god.

"Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego." (Daniel 1:6-7)

But the name couldn't change who they were on the inside.

Daniel and his friends were also given Babylonian education. They were to be indoctrinated into the philosophy, mindset and values of Babylon. The 4 friends apparently went along with the education, but--again--it didn't 'define' them.

(Important principle: If we teach our young people at a young age the truths about God, His Word, and faith, and IF they internalize it, then being exposed to other philosophies does not have to undermine it--they can be strong!)

The third way that Daniel and his friends were to be 'indoctrinated' into Babylon--and changed at thier core--was through their diet. This is where they drew the line...and I'll write about that next time.

In the meantime, take a step back, and think about these guys. Teenagers--perhaps 14 or 15. Their parents may've been killed, they were kidnapped and transported to a hostile land. They are threatened with death at any time if they misplease the king, or step too far out of line.

Everyone on earth would 'understand' if they went along. "What choice did they have?", we'd say. "They couldn't risk dying for it!"

Yet, they did!

These 4 young men risked everything, in a hostile environment, with all the odds 'stacked against them', they did not compromise.

They stood up for what they believed in. More specifically, they stood up for WHO they believed in--the God of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...they God their parents had (apparently) taught them about. The God THEY believed in.

They literally put their lives on the line in order to stand for this God.

...and how did it go for them?

You can read about it in Daniel 1, or you can 'tune in next time'!

In the meantime, consider: What "defines" you?

Will you follow Him, and REFUSE to compromise--like they did?

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