“But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine
given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat
these unacceptable foods.” Daniel 1:8 New Living Translation
If you know me very well or have been following Fresh Heart devotionals for many of the past eleven years, you don’t expect me to offer advice for dieting. For me to weigh in on the ‘weighty issues’ of your life would fall into the category of the pot calling the kettle black!
Let me put your mind at ease. This is a spiritual lesson, not instructions on your eating habits.
In Daniel chapter one we find four young men (some of the brightest and most gifted in knowledge, appearance and strength in all of Judah’s royal family.) They have been brought as captives to Babylon to train for service in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. They are expected to learn and grow, adjust and adapt, and in three years be ready to serve their new master.
With everything going on in their lives, amid all the turmoil of a new location, new language to learn, cultural adaptations to respond to … you wouldn’t think that a minor thing like a new diet would make any difference to them.
But it did.
Accustomed to the simple Jewish diet of their homeland, they were offered rich and exotic foods from the king’s own kitchen, accompanied by the finest wines. It would seem that this was to be a succulent treat … not a deal breaker!
But Daniel saw it as a defilement of his true calling so he politely refused. “Give me vegetables and water for ten days,” he asked his handlers. “And see if I am not as healthy as the rest.” They did … and he was.
Here’s the spiritual implication that stares me in the face as I write. If it’s true that ‘you are what you eat’ in the physical dimension, then what about the immaterial part of us. You know, the spiritual, emotional and mental part of us? What diet is our culture attempting to put us on?
If Daniel fought defilement from the alien culture he found himself living in, what about our ‘eating habits?’ What do we feed on? How nutritious is it? Is it life-giving or life-sapping? Do the things we absorb through media add to our integrity, moral strength and virtue? Do we come away from our pleasures ‘well fed?’ Or are we consuming not only empty calories, but actually things that could be detrimental to our spiritual health?
This week, remember … what goes into us changes us! Like the companions we choose in our lives – they either contribute to our success or work against it. There are things to eat which will inhibit our ability to finish strong and please our King.
Just say, “No thanks!”
“Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves
from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work
toward complete holiness because we fear God.”
II Corinthians 7:1 New Living Translation