Faith or Arrogance?

Faith or Arrogance?                                           September 3, 2023

When I was growing up, there was a Lay’s Potato Chips as campaign that ran several times.  It had an extremely catchy slogan: “Betcha can’t eat just one!”  As a child, I would think, “Duh!   Of course, I could!”  However, every time I found a Lay’s Original bag in my lunch, I never seemed to find the willpower to give it a try.

We tend to overestimate our ability to resist temptation, don’t we?  Especially when we are sitting in a pew.  It is easy to say, “Amen!” to whatever challenge the preacher gives us.  As he warns the congregation to abstain from a particular sin, we imagine ourselves overcoming such a temptation without any trouble at all.  However, how often do we find ourselves lacking willpower when we are confronted with temptation?

In Daniel chapter one, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego demonstrate the self-control to which we should all aspire.  During the Babylonian captivity, they were chosen to be the personal servants of King Nebuchadnezzar.  To prepare them for this service, the king commanded that they eat the king’s delicacies and drink the king’s wine.  However, Daniel recognized that eating the king’s food would violate God’s law.  So, he and his three brethren refused the king’s meals and asked for a substitute (Daniel 1:8).

Now, Daniel’s request was not that simple.  This meal was part of their preparation to serve the king.  If the chief eunuch gave them something else to eat and it hurt their appearance, the king could execute him (v. 10).  Their defiance was a matter of life and death – not only for themselves, but also for this eunuch!

Daniel and the others were facing tremendous temptation.  If they would go along with the program, not only would they be free of danger, but they would be eating and drinking the best meal in all of Babylon.  How easy would it be for them to just keep quiet and eat?  But that’s not what they did.

How were they able to resist so easily?  Verse 8 tells us, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…”  He made a covenant with himself to remain faithful.  Daniel was prepared for whatever temptation would come his way because he already made his mind up.

It is easy for us to nod our heads and imagine the great faith we might muster when met with temptations we’ve never known.  But we will fail if we haven’t made the preparations necessary to face them.  Is our faith a self-gratifying show of arrogance, or do we take temptations seriously and purpose in our hearts to remain faithful like Daniel?

By Robert Lupo