Daily Bible Reading: Daniel 1

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. (Daniel 1:3-5, 8 NLT)
Daniel was a captive in Babylon, and there were many things that were out of his control. We learn in verse 8 of this chapter, that even in captivity, he had determination not to defile himself by eating the food God had declared unacceptable for His people. His determination affected both himself and his witness to the chief of staff responsible for his care.
In a sense, we are all captives of the cultures in which we live. There are daily pressures to participate in activities that defile us. Some directly distract us from a close relationship with God. Rather than strengthening our relationship, they weaken it. Others are less direct, but result in hindering our witness to other people.
There is a significant, yet subtle, pressure we face. It is not the direct pressure to defile ourselves, but the pressure to redefine a defiling activity as something which is acceptable. It is the same thing we see in Genesis 3:1,
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? “
For Daniel, remaining undefiled before God was very important. Where does that fit in your priorities?