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. Daniel 1:8 (NLT)
I am looking forward to a new small group study of the book of Daniel this fall. As a little background, the key players are the King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Daniel and his three friends, and the chief official of the court. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the King chose some of the young men of that region, including Daniel, to join in him in service in the king’s court. I noticed two things in the first chapter; one, it is OK to speak up if you have a difference of opinion or someone challenges your values. It was natural for them to eat food that had come from the King’s table. Yet, Daniel asked permission to skip the food and wine offered to him because it had been part of the worship of foreign gods. Given such a choice, some of us might resort to ranting and demanding our rights—creating an even bigger problem. However, Daniel’s greater allegiance to the one true God, Jehovah, gave him the desire and courage to stand firm, ready to suffer the consequences for his beliefs. This brings me to my second observation—provide a viable alternative when confronted with a conflict. Daniel suggested another plan—a diet of only fruits, vegetables, and water and further suggested a ten-day trial followed by an evaluation. In the end, Daniel and his friends passed the test. God protected these young men and gave them knowledge and understanding so that they became valued members of his cabinet. Sometimes it seems like we have no alternatives. The boss participates in shady business practices in the accounting department. The writer cheats and steals someone else’s thoughts and passes them off as his own. The teacher favors certain students and requires reports on questionable topics in order to pass a class. Unfair? Yes, but there are options. Think of Daniel—speak up and offer an alternative—the next time you run up against such a situation. What better way to glorify God?