In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we are introduced to a remarkable young man. Far from home and family, surrounded by heathen influences in a kingly court filled with wealth and self-indulgence, Daniel had the discipline to purpose in his heart not to defile himself.
How did he develop this character that would not be swayed to do evil? We are told nothing about his parents or the family members who may have reared him. Yet someone laid a foundation that caused him to stand on his convictions and not conform to the circumstances around him.
I find three things that are evident in Daniel’s life that perhaps some mother or father, uncle or grandmother, taught him in his early years.
- Daniel was grounded in the tenets of his faith. Daniel 1:8 says that he purposed in his heart “that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” He had been told which foods would pollute his body and knew that, as a Jew, he was not to break this law.
- Daniel knew how to interact properly with authority figures. Again, Daniel 1:8 says that he “requested” that he not be forced to eat the meat and drink the wine. Verse 11 tells us that Daniel “beseeched” the prince of the eunuchs to let he and his friends try their plan of eating pulse and drinking water. Here is a spirit of humility, not one of defiance or rebellion.
- Daniel was a person of prayer. In Daniel 2:17-18, he faced a crisis and immediately resorted to prayer, even asking his friends to pray also. Later, in Daniel 6, we read of his habit of praying three times a day. At some point early in life, Daniel had been taught the importance of seeking God in prayer.
As we set out to rear children who can resist worldly pressures and purpose in their own hearts to do right, let us ensure that we impart these same principles to them.