Monday night we had our weekly Bible study group, and we began delving into the book of Daniel. We started it briefly last week, and this week looked at verses 8 to 16.
One of the things we talked about was Daniel's resolve to not defile himself by eating the king's food, and drinking his wine. In order to be defiled, the act must be in regard to a moral situation - something that comes from God.
Since Daniel was a Jew, he would have followed laws with regard to they types of food he would eat, and the way it would have been prepared. Since Nebuchadnezzar was not Jewish, he would not have had the same requirements for eating or the preparations for meals.
In verse 9, we can see that God is at work in the situation - He granted Daniel favour and compassion in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar's chief official. Daniel asks to just be served only vegetables and water, but the official is scared of having his head cut off because he thinks Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are going to wither away to nothing, compared to those who would be eating from the kings bounty.
Daniel asks for ten days, a trial period of sorts. At the end of that time, the four boys were actually in better health and appearance (my version says fatter), than the others who had been eating the kings' food.
Daniel trusted God. He held fast to his beliefs about not eating the king's food. That was simply a line he would not cross. We can also see that when Daniel was presented with the problem (of being fed the king's food and wine), he did not rebel against the situation - he didn't fight it, but merely asked permission to try it his way first. We can see the trust Daniel has for God in this situation; he doesn't even give a condition - there is no "let's try it this way first, and if it doesn't work I'll eat the king's food". Eating the king's food just wasn't an option for Daniel.
We are often faced with situations and temptations which can ultimately defile us, and we have a choice to make - give in to the temptation and defile ourselves, or not give in, not cross the line. We are called to be holy, to be set apart. As Christians, we are different from others, and that is OK. We are to be different in the way of Jesus - be in the world, but not of the world.
We need to be wise and make choices for the right reasons, to not rebel simply because we want to, but because we follow God. When we wisely stick to what is right in holiness and for the right reason (following God), we are not being different (or rebelling) simply because we want to. We are doing it because we follow God. Daniel didn't decide to not eat the kings food or drink his wine simply because he (Daniel) wanted to or felt like it, He resolved to do this because he followed God's laws. He wanted to be obedient to God.
Daniel was different from the others, and he stayed true to who he was by continuing to be obedient to God. He wouldn't cross the line, wouldn't give into the temptation, wouldn't defile himself. He stayed true to his beliefs.
How are you different from your non-Christian friends and co-workers, and what lines would you not cross when you are with them (even if it means you will be chastised for your beliefs)? What do you do in order to not defile yourself?