Daniel is remembered for a lot of things. He wrote a book of the Bible, and it’s named after him. He also survived being thrown into a den of lions. In this episode of young Daniel’s life, we learn something about his character. He was a man of resolve.
As a young Jewish captive in Babylon, he was ordered to eat food from the king’s table, which went against God’s commands to Israel given by Moses. Eating this food would, by standards of Jewish dietary laws, defile him and dishonor God: “But Daniel resolved [or “made up his mind” NASB] not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (Daniel 1:8 NIV).
King Nebuchadnezzar had given strict instructions to his officials on how these captives were to be reprogrammed for their service to the empire.
It would have been easy to give in on this. It was only food. He was just a poor captive. The consequences of disobedience could be fatal. This was a considerably more complicated decision for Daniel than merely offending your host.
Certainly, there were plenty of reasons for Daniel to just give it up and play by the palace rules. But he didn’t.
Daniel’s supervisor observed the effects of Daniel’s love for God and saw his resolve to be completely obedient to God’s laws. It convinced this official that Daniel was something special. Thus we read that, “God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel” (Daniel 1:9 NIV).
Three Principles to Live By to Develop Christian Character
Resolve is when people know what is right and then stick to it. They subordinate their feelings and emotions to principle. Resolve would mean doing that which you know is right instead of doing what you want, even if it’s costly.
In order to do make up his mind when he needed to, Daniel needed to know what he should be resolved about—or what was right in God’s eyes.
Daniel learned what principles to live by from spending time in God’s Word. He spent regular time praying to God. He became familiar with the Scriptures, talking to God in prayer:
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10 NIV)
I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. (Daniel 9:2 NIV)
How can we, like Daniel, learn to be people who hold the right convictions?
Get to Know God Through His Word
Make your first resolve today to read God’s Word and seek God in prayer just like Daniel, so you might let God shape your resolutions. God uses Scripture to form Christian convictions.
Now, resolve doesn’t mean perfection. Resolve is like a muscle that gets stronger as you exercise it. And like muscles that go unused, it will waste away with neglect. Start small and get stronger.
For example, resolve to study your Bible and pray once a week for the next three months. Whatever you resolve to do, be honest with the current strength of your will. If you aim too high initially, you’ll get discouraged and quit. Work up to it!
Find a Church and Other Christians
Second, recognize that we aren’t alone in life. God provides us with other Christians to support us when we have trouble standing on our own. Daniel had three other friends—fellow captives—who resolved to obey God with him (Daniel 3).
We need the support of friends in the faith. If you aren’t currently part of a Christian fellowship or church, resolve to join one.
Remember Jesus’ Resolve to Love You
Third, even though we may at times fail God, God cannot fail us. He is the supreme example of what it means to be resolved. Jesus demonstrates what Christian character ought to look like.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
When we understand God’s resolve to love us by sending his Son Jesus to die for our sins, we resolve to love him back. God loves all those who trust in Jesus with unfailing love (Romans 8:38-39). He is worthy of our deepest commitment to love and obey him (John 14:15).
Daniel remained firm in his resolve to love and obey God, and God proved ever faithful. He will be faithful to you as you resolve to honor him.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)