God’s people have always been on a collision course with the world system. Have you noticed that children are often on the frontlines confronting culture that is contrary to God? Schools, peers, and media constantly challenge their faith. The question pondered in the heart of godly parents is, “Have I adequately prepared my children to counter the warped philosophies of this world?”
Daniel’s parents faced a remarkably similar situation. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem, the best and brightest youth were deported to Babylon to serve in the king’s palace. A teenaged Daniel and his friends were immediately forced into a 3-year indoctrination program that would test every biblical principle they were taught.
The plan to re-educate the teens in “the language and literature of the Chaldeans” was designed to make them think like Babylonians. Their diet was changed to stimulate an appetite for the decadence of Babylon. Their names were changed to identify them with the Babylonian gods. The goal was to separate them from their Jewish heritage and assimilate them into a foreign culture.
Though much of his daily life was immersed in Babylonian society, Daniel maintained his commitment to God. Here are three seeds of righteousness from the life of Daniel that we can plant in our children to produce bold faith for our times:
Character is the determination to do what is pleasing to God.
In Daniel 6:4, we read that Daniel’s character was resilient in adversity, “But they could find no occasion or fault because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” He modeled Christian conduct for those who face opposition to their faith:
- He worked hard, continually developed his skills and served the leaders of Babylon to the best of his abilities. (1:20)
- He had an excellent spirit; even his enemies could not find fault with him. (5:11-12, 6:3-4)
- He learned to object with respect when his faith conflicted with society’s ideals (1:8-16, 2:14-15).
- He obeyed every order that did not compromise his faith, but his true loyalty was to God. (2:28-30, 2:20-22)
- He trusted God with the outcome of every situation. (1:9, 2:17-18, 6:10)
Convictions are set boundaries in our life based on the Word of God that we refuse to compromise.
Daniel did not allow his environment to erode his values. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). Other translations say he made up his mind, he determined, he resolved. This is the language of conviction. It’s much easier to maintain convictions when you have resolved to do what is right before the temptation occurs.
Notice that Daniel never reacted to opposition recklessly. His response was patient and prayerful. He waited for the right time to act and when he did it was always with humility (1:8-16, 2:14-15).
Courage to live counterculture is irrevocably connected to consistent prayer, obedience to God’s Word and acknowledgment of the sovereign God. God responded favorably to Daniel because he kept these spiritual disciplines.
Daniel was not intimidated by the challenge to uphold truth in times of uncertainty. Rather than fade into the background, he boldly chose to excel in exile. This courageous approach caught the attention of those in authority and moved him into a position of influence. Daniel’s daily decision to honor the true King changed the course of an entire kingdom (6:25-27)!
Against the pagan backdrop of idol worship and arrogant kings, Daniel’s genuine worship and humility before the King of kings created a vivid contrast that allowed God’s power to shine. There is more to just surviving in “exile.” We were meant to thrive in it!
…But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (11:32).