But Daniel — Then Daniel

Most of us will never be in a place of prominence like Daniel. I have no illusions about ever being “…the third ruler in the kingdom…” (Dan. 5:29). I don’t have any expectations about my words or actions ever being reported by the national news media. 

While our “sphere of influence” may not be as large as his, our Lord expects that influence to be positive (cf. Matt. 5:13-16). It seems to me that there are a couple of things learned from Daniel that can help us to do that.

In the opening verses of the book that bears his name, we learn about a number of young men who were taken from their homeland into a foreign country. We learn that they were exceptional young men and that they were to be trained in the language and customs of that country. Of course, Daniel was one of those young men.

Along with that training, there were certain expectations. Daniel understood that some of those expectations were in conflict with the will of God. Specifically, Daniel knew that some of the expectations would have an impact on his diet 

Daniel also knew a couple of other things. He also knew that he was far from home. He also knew he was in a very definite minority.

So, what did this young man do when the “odds were stacked against him?” What did he do when he was presented with the opportunity to “go along in order to get along?”

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank…” (Dan. 1:8, ESV).

“But Daniel” – those two words say a lot. They say that Daniel knew he was different. They say that he knew that there were things he could not do because of his devotion to God.

Those of us who at least claim to follow Jesus understand that there are some things we cannot do in order to live up to that claim. It has never been the case that God’s people can “blend in” with ungodly people and/or lifestyles. 

We are to be distinctive. We need to live up to the “but Daniel” portions of scripture. Those portions can be a real challenge.

However, there are two other words in the passage that also present a challenge.

“Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, test your servants for ten days…” (Dan. 1:11-12, ESV).

His resolve led to action! 

I’m concerned that Christians are often only known for what we refuse to do. We may focus a little too much on the “but Daniel” portions of scripture and not give much thought to those “then Daniel” portions. 

I would like to challenge all of us (starting with me) to also consider the “then Daniel” portions. “But Daniel” does little good without “then Daniel.” Salt does no good when it is left in a salt shaker and light does no good when it is covered up. 

It is significant that, after our Lord washed the feet of His apostles, He said:

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17, ESV).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

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