Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A sterling reputation - starting early!

We are focused this week on Daniel -- he was a man of sterling reputation, and in Daniel 1, we see that he started early!
He and his friends have been taken captive to Babylon, and they've been told they will reside in the king's palace for three years, to train for service. They've also been presented with "choice" foods and adult beverages that may not go along with their principles.
What will they do?
What will Daniel do?

Check out verse 8 from our focus passage yesterday:
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. (NIV)
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (KJV)

Daniel had made a decision.
I love how both of the translations above utilize such strong words -- he resolved; he purposed in his heart. He had made a choice and he was committed to it. Oh, that this kind of commitment would be commonplace in our world! But I'm afraid it's not seen as often as it should be, from the young or the old.
Let's see how he stayed true to his commitment -- after all, this is how his reputation got started!
Looking at the food and wine offered to them, Daniel was either concerned about the types of food and the food prep, or he was concerned about it being used for idol worship. Either way, he was very careful to be polite. See up there in the verse? He didn't demand -- he respected the authority of the people set over his care, and he requested. I'm thinking that Daniel was a pretty tactful guy!
He did it with God's help, too. I expect that he whispered a little prayer after the first refusal . . .the chief of the eunuchs didn't think much of his request, even with God working in his heart. He thought a lot of Daniel and the others, but he was worried he might make the king mad -- and we all know what could happen then. So, Daniel asked the steward (guard), instead.

Daniel was confident that God "had his back," so he was persistent. (There's another lesson for us, right?)  He also was willing to test his own faith; he was so sure that God's way was the right way, that he was willing to demonstrate it to others. Daniel asked the steward to give him, and his three friends, just water and wholesome veggies for ten days.

The steward might have thought to himself, "You're nuts! Look at all this awesome, tasty food!" And the other captives may have thought, "Hey, that leaves more for us! We're cool with that!"

But at the end of ten days, it was Daniel and his three friends who were healthy and perky (not stuffed and drunk like the rest!) The steward was so impressed with their healthy appearance and attitudes that he got rid of the fancy foods and wines for all the rest of the captives, too! God blessed their faith and their persistence, and then He blessed them even more. He gave all of them knowledge, skills, and wisdom, and to Daniel He gave the ability to understand visions and dreams. As a result, these four became the best of the young men who had been trained, and they served in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar.

They were not only a little better than the soothsayers, magicians, and astrologers in the palace, they were LOTS better! Verse twenty says that it didn't matter which subject the king asked them about, they were ten times better than the rest!

Daniel's reputation grew and grew, from this early start. He became the "number two" ruler of the kingdom, answering only to the king. He continued in the court of Babylon for nearly seventy years, and advised Nebuchadnezzar, his son, and then Cyrus of Persia.

Tomorrow we will look at some lessons that we can use in our own lives . . .