Let's take a look at how Daniel coped in his environment. Fortunately, the Bible shows us how he navigated the difficult terrain, and his example is instructive to us who live in a world just as corrupt.
The first and most important thing that Daniel did was to make a quality decision. The Bible says that he "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank...” (Daniel 1:8a). After he saw the glitz, glamour, and immorality Babylon offered, he determined in his heart not to be a part of it! Daniel reasoned and believed that the pure worship of God which he had learned in Israel would offer him greater benefits than the rebellion, idolatry, and glamour of Babylon. This was a wise decision.
After Daniel purposed not to defile himself with the king's delicacies, he took another wise and bold step—he went to the king's official who supervised his team and asked to be taken off the king's diet. This was a daring but necessary step if he was to preserve his spiritual integrity. At this point, God helped him and as a result, the king's official was empathetic to his cause even though he knew this decision could cost him (the official) his life.
Despite this favor, the path to righteous living was still not fully open to Daniel, so once again he came up with a wise, faith-filled idea to push his plan to the end. He proposed to the official that he and his friends be tested on a vegetarian diet for a specified period. Daniel trusted that God would help them in their quest to honor Him with their lives. And He did! After the test period, Daniel and his friends looked better than their peers even though they had abstained from the king's rich but defiling diet. So, the king's official allowed them to continue with their God-honoring ways for the rest of the training period. Because Daniel and his friends took these bold steps to salvage themselves from corruption, God did something else for them. The Bible says that He "gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” —Daniel 1:17. Consequently, Daniel and his friends excelled far above their contemporaries at their interviews with the king and the king chose them to serve him.
Amazingly, God still grants such outstanding breakthrough to those who love and obey Him today; He causes them to excel because they honor Him. For example, in the area of marriage, the world proposes many ideas that are opposed to God's plan for finding a spouse. We are taught to find our soul-mates by sampling various boyfriends or girlfriends before marriage. We are told that courtship must involve kissing and more. We are told that people who do not do these things are likely to have unromantic and unfulfilling marriages. But this is untrue. Christians who follow God's direction for finding a spouse actually end up with satisfying, loving, and romantic marriages. Many years into marriage, God-honoring couples still enjoy their love and sometimes even more so than when they began.
Through wisdom, the fear of God and faith, Daniel and his friends rose to positions of influence and excellence in their land of captivity. They faced several difficulties along the way, circumstances that threatened their lives and loyalty to God, but in each situation they made up their minds to please God and followed their determination with wise, faith-filled actions. God backed them up every step of the way, and when they endured suffering, He stood by them and eventually delivered them.
Determination played a fundamental role in Daniel and his friends' victory over their defiling environment; wisdom also played a crucial part, but it was not the wisdom of this world. It was divine wisdom and understanding obtained through an intimate walk with God and a life of obedience to Him. Similarly, when we walk closely with God and obey Him, He shows us how to navigate difficult circumstances in our world; He also shows us alternate paths wherein we can please Him and excel at what we do.
Daniel's life is proof that we can live righteously in a corrupt world; but we must do so through God's wisdom. Let us seek His wisdom therefore, and combining it with faith and reverence, let's live victoriously in our world!
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