Daniel 1:8 (NASB)
up his mind that he would not defile himself with
the king’s choice
Daniel 1:8 is a Bible verse in the Old Testament that kicks off a fascinating story about a young man and his friends who had been captured from Jerusalem by the Babylonian army, and their experience can teach us how to live in victory regarding our health.
The world around us is in a fitness craze these days. It’s great that we recognize the importance of being physically fit and healthy, watching what we eat and improving our physical health, but many of us have gone to the extreme.
I had lunch with some business associates recently and noticed most of our discussion centered around what was bad for us and what we should and shouldn’t be eating, what we should or shouldn’t be drinking, and what exercises we should be doing and how often we should be doing them. Then I finally realized that our conversation actually hindered us from appreciating the very meal we had gathered to eat and enjoy!
Most of us eat a meal three times each day. Let’s face it—eating is a big part of our lives. We wouldn’t survive without the regular commodity of food. So quite simply, let us recognize each meal for what it is—a gift from God.
Before we gobble it up and move on to the next thing, let's slow down and take a moment to thank Him for it. We don’t have to announce our thanks publicly; just simply acknowledge in our heart that we recognize and appreciate the good gifts He provides for us. A simple and even silent “Thank you for this meal” speaks volumes to His heart.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 says, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith… 3 and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
You see, the truth is if we receive the food with thanksgiving and we believe God has sanctified it (set it apart as holy) as He said, then we can partake and enjoy it!
If we eat something that makes us feel guilty because we’re afraid it’s going to harm our health, detract from our appearance or because someone else wouldn’t approve, then it’s very difficult to enjoy it, isn’t it?
1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
How much greater would our daily pleasure be if we believed God’s promises and received His gifts with thanksgiving?! Even a simple meal!
Daniel and his friends had been captured from Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. The Babylonian king wanted the best, strongest and brightest to serve in his court, and Daniel and his friends were appointed by the king to be trained and conditioned for that very purpose.
The king appointed them a daily ration of his own choice food and wine. But Daniel would not defy God and eat the king’s choice food and wine, since it was unlawful for a Jew to partake of the food sacrificed to false gods. He instead asked the king’s commander that he and his friends be served only vegetables and water.
The commander at first objected because the king expected Daniel and the young men to grow in strength and power and he knew vegetables and water would not be enough. So as Daniel 1:8 says, he asked the commander to test them for 10 days on vegetables and water and then compare them to the other youths who were eating the king’s food.
The commander agreed to this test, and at the end of 10 days Daniel and his friends were more robust and stronger than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food!
God rewarded Daniel's faith. God also rewards our faith—believing what He says and sticking to it. Hebrews 11:6 says God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If we trust Him to take care of our health by believing His promise, then we can expect to be rewarded, as Daniel was.
If we are anxiously trying to stay in complete and total control of what we eat, how much we eat, how much and how often we exercise, then we are probably depending on ourselves more than God to take care of our health. What a burden!
We don’t have to obsess over following the rules from the latest diet plan or exercise routine. We can be free from that! I’m not saying that we can expect God to keep us healthy if we overeat every day and indulge in candy and junk food all the time—no.
What I am saying is that we should do our best to be a good steward of the body God has given us. After all, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and we should take that very seriously. But let's throw away the anxiety of trying to keep all the healthy food rules and exercise mandates!
Let's give thanks for our food and then enjoy it! Wouldn’t our meals taste better if there was no guilt associated with it? And wouldn’t we enjoy exercising more if there was no anxiety attached to it?
When we try to keep complete control over all the details, there is a striving—a struggle—to attain a certain result. And there are no guarantees that the perfect diet and exercise program (even if we can maintain it) will attain the results we want.
God knows what’s important to us, and He will answer our concerns if we ask Him and then trust Him to do so. His way is so much simpler.
You see, it’s not what we do (or what we eat or don’t eat) that transforms our lives and bodies for the better, but what we believe and Who we trust. Jesus said many times in the New Testament, “Your faith has made you well.”
Study the Bible verse of Daniel 1:8, believe God and be set free.
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