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September 2014

 

Dear Friend,

Obeying the Lord is not always easy, but it’s always the best option. As Christians, we hold certain beliefs that we consider true and worthy, but our culture doesn’t always share our convictions. Sometimes, though, we have to stand alone for what we believe. When we are following the Lord, we’re never really alone because He’s always with us. Each time we choose to obey Him, He strengthens us to stand firm and promises to bless us.

Growing up, I remember singing this song: “Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known.” God is looking for people like Daniel— followers of Christ who will stand for their godly convictions. By examining Daniel’s life, we’ll discover what made him unique and how we can follow in his footsteps.

First of all, Daniel knew what he believed and was prepared to stand for his convictions. He was just a teenager when he was uprooted from his home in Judah and carried off to Babylon to be educated and trained in the Babylonian culture. Yet because he had made up his mind beforehand to live as a Hebrew, faithfully keeping the law of Moses, he was ready to stand for his convictions when the first test came.

Would he eat the food and drink the wine that came from the king’s table? This might not seem like a big issue to us, but this food had been offered to idols, and Daniel was determined not to defile himself (Dan. 1:8). So he asked that he and his three friends be given vegetables and water. After a ten-day trial, the king’s official found that Daniel and his friends looked better than all the other young men. God blessed them for their obedience by giving them knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (Dan. 1:17).

Secondly, Daniel’s example shows us that God entrusts more responsibility to those who have proven themselves faithful in small matters (Dan. 1:17-21). Sometimes we mistakenly limit our convictions to those that we consider important issues, but Jesus taught that those who are faithful in the little things will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10).

When I was a teenager, I had a friend who wasn’t a believer. One day he told me, “Stanley, you used to be a pretty good guy until you started running around with me.” Suddenly I realized that my small compromises had lessened my Christian influence on him. God taught me a valuable lesson that day—never underestimate the importance of obedience in small matters.

This brings up a third principle we can take away from Daniel’s life: his willingness to stand for a simple conviction became a stepping stone for the larger challenges that awaited him. When King Nebuchadnezzar had an alarming dream, the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was going to become insane and live like a wild animal for seven periods of time (Dan. 4:19-27). Despite the danger of angering the king, Daniel obeyed the Lord and delivered the bad news. At another point in his life, he chose to face a den of lions rather than stop praying to his God (Dan. 6:7-11). He could not be frightened into compromise because he was determined to remain faithful to the Lord.

Are there any areas in your life where you are tempted to yield to pressure? If holding on to your convictions resulted in losing your job or not passing a course, would you compromise? Godly character is an invaluable quality, worth far more than anything you could gain or lose by compromising your convictions. The Lord will handle all the consequences if you simply obey Him.

Finally, Daniel’s obedience opened doors of opportunity for him to become a tremendous influence in an ungodly culture. Although he was a foreigner who held firmly to his Hebrew beliefs, he was promoted to the highest places of authority by every king he served. Instead of persecuting him for speaking the truth, they raised him up. Because of his strong stand, the phrase, “the God of Daniel” echoed in the chambers of those pagan kingdoms (Dan. 6:26).

In the same way, Jesus has left us here in this world to influence those around us. When we stand on the principles of His Word, we leave a lasting impact on others. Although some may ridicule us, those with open hearts will be drawn to the Savior when they see our godly example.

What convictions guide your conduct? Which ones are not up for negotiation no matter what happens? Writing them down is a good way to solidify them in your mind so you will be ready when a challenging situation arises. Just remember that one strong, uncompromising, obedient child of God is a powerhouse of influence who, like Daniel, can impact the world.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. My prayer is that you will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to shine like a light in a dark world as you stand up for your convictions whenever opportunities arise. The Lord has placed each of us in our homes, workplaces, and cities so we can influence those around us with our holy conduct and gracious words.