But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself… (Daniel 1:8)
How many times do we fail in some way, and we look back and say, “Why did I do that, what was I thinking?” Whether we fail in anger, greed, gossip, impurity, addiction, doubt, or fear, we look back and think, “I know better.”
There is a key to victory over failure here in the book of Daniel. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself. Daniel was taken from his homeland, and he lived in exile in a strange place. Their ways were not his ways. Their gods, were not his God. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself. It would have been easy for Daniel to simply rationalize failure, after all, he didn’t choose to live in exile in this foreign land. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself.
As followers of Jesus, we too live in exile. Our home is in heaven, but for a time, we live in a strange place. The gods of this place are not our God, though they do seek to supplant Him. The ways of this place are not the ways we are called to live. It can be so easy to rationalize our failures in this place. So what should we do? Let us have the courage to make up our minds not to defile ourselves.
But do not wait until you are tempted by some failure. That is not the time to make up your mind. The time is now. Replace the name of Daniel with your name, and say to yourself,
“But [your name] made up his/her mind that he/she would not defile himself/herself.”
Say it to yourself again and again throughout the day until your mind is made up. And the next time you are faced with and opportunity for failure, remind yourself that your mind is made up not to defile yourself, and turn to Jesus for victory.