Discerning wisdom is not an overnight process.
Today’s Scripture reading comes from Daniel 1:8, quoting from the NASB:
“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.”
Born in the 1880s, William Borden was the son of the notable producer of Borden’s dairy products. Responding to the call of Christ on his life. William renounced his life of affluence and traveled to Egypt to prepare for the mission field. He contracted meningitis in Egypt and died at the age of 25. Later, his parents found in his Bible the words “No Reserves,” dated shortly after he rejected fortune in favor of missions. In another place in his Bible he had written “No Retreat,” dated after his father told him he would never work for the Borden Company again. Shortly before he died in Egypt, he added the phrase “No Regrets.” Those six words defined young William Borden’s life resolve: “No reserves, no retreat, no regrets.”
Daniel lived his life with similar resolve toward God as did William Borden. At a young age (some estimate twelve to fourteen), Daniel was taken captive and placed in service in Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. When confronted with assuming a Babylonian diet of food forbidden by his scriptural teachings, Daniel declared he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food and wine. Instead, he asked for vegetables and water in place of the king’s food and wine.
What will loyalty and faithfulness to God get you? In Daniel’s case, first, it got him the favor and compassion of his chief training official. Daniel made his declaration not to defile himself with an alternate plan in mind. Though a youth, Daniel’s request reflected his trainer’s concern that he not lose his life by compromising his responsibility to assimilate Daniel and his three friends into the Babylonian culture. Daniel did not stage a hunger strike. He asked that they be given vegetables and water for ten days followed by comparison with the other youth in appearance and training. Daniel’s request was reasonable, and his trainer agreed to the trial.
Daniel’s loyalty and faithfulness to God also netted him a host of knowledge, intellect, wisdom, and the ability to understand visions and dreams. God did not stop there. Daniel and his friends’ loyalty to God resulted in an audience with Babylon’s decision maker, King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar observed the wisdom and understanding of Daniel and his friends and found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all of his realm.
Though efforts may be taken to change one’s worldview, believers must decide on Scriptural hotspots or points of no compromise and maintain faithfulness to God. Daniel’s resolve helped him to discern a wise, alternate plan. Christ followers can expect to “…hear a word behind you, saying: ‘This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.’” Doubtless, Daniel’s wise request was in response to hearing God through prayer and study of the Scriptures.
Discerning wisdom is not an overnight process. Spiritual wisdom accompanies the practice of spiritual disciplines, particularly when prayer and Bible study are hallmarks. Daniel’s practice of spiritual disciplines readied him with a wise response when his circumstances demanded compromise.
Points to Ponder
Over the next week, here are 3 points to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.
- First, are there cultural issues that you defend or reject which oppose God’s clear teaching? Consider that, like Daniel, you may be assuming responsibility for other believers under your influence.
- Second, how do you respond when you feel your “rights” have been violated? Are you willing to give up your rights for the good of someone else?
- Third, in what areas of faith have you declared, “No reserves, no retreat, no regrets?”