Week of Monday, February 15 – Sunday, February 21
Go Against the Flow – Man as a Provider

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” – Daniel 1:8 ESV

I spend a fair amount of time on planes as I travel to speak at churches and men’s conferences. Sometimes I get stuck in a window seat, but one of the benefits is the view. From 30,000 feet, one of the things you notice is that all the rivers look like snakes winding their way across the landscape below. No straight lines, only curves and bends. The reason is obvious. As water flows downward, it winds its way around obstacles. It follows the path of least resistance.

The same could be said for many men. They take the path of least resistance. They take the easy way. They “go with the flow” of the culture around them. However, in your role as Provider, you need to provide your family and friends a strong set of values, a godly example to follow. The values of God’s word run counter to the values of the culture around us. Consequently, there are times when we men need to stand courageously and “go against the flow.”

We have a great example before us in Daniel, who dared to be different and went counter to the prevailing culture. Honestly, it would have been all too easy for Daniel to go with the flow. He and three Hebrew friends (we know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) had been captured by the invading Babylonians, who destroyed Jerusalem and their Temple. These promising young men were deported to Babylon to be “assimilated” into service of the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his friends were subjected to re-education classes and even assigned new pagan names. But when they placed food from the king’s table in front of him to eat, Daniel pushed it back and politely but resolutely said “No.” The Bible says, “But Daniel resolved that he would not…” (v. 8).

Daniel did so on the basis of his faith and convictions, his principles and values. Sadly, there are many men today who are not even sure what their personal values are, but Daniel had that figured out. Consequently, for him to partake would be to “defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank” (v. 8). Whether the food was kosher or whether it had been sacrificed or blessed in the name of a pagan god didn’t ultimately matter. The bottom line was that Daniel wanted to honor God and his law, not bow to the edict of this pagan king. That decision set the course for a godly life of great influence and impact. Because he stood courageously back then, parents are still naming their sons “Daniel” today.

Life is a series of decisions. Just as towering oaks from tiny acorns grow, we make our decisions and our decisions make us. You are who you are today because of decisions and choices you made years ago. Most of the time we don’t realize how important seemingly small decisions can be, like the one Daniel made about food and drink from the king’s table. Yet time will reveal your trajectory, and you can look at where you are today and track it all back to those decisions—small and large—that you made earlier in life. So as the next life decision comes along, consider those who look up to you. Remember that many people are paying attention to how you live your Christian faith. What kind of example will you provide? Will you simply go with the flow of the pagan culture? Or will you stand courageously for God?

  • As you survey the decisions facing you, where are you being tempted to “go with the flow” and take the path of least resistance?
  • Consider some specific ways that you can provide a strong set of biblical values to those who look up to you. How can you provide a godly example in our increasingly pagan culture?
  • Ask God for the strength and resolve to “go against the flow” in a polite but principled way like Daniel did.