In the story of Daniel and his four friends - young Jewish teens - taken from Jerusalem to the court of the King in Babylon, we read this: "The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years and after that they were to enter the king's service."
This is heady stuff for a bunch of high schoolers. This is a taste of the high life: food from the king's table. Once you get a taste of the high life, it's difficult to settle for anything else. This was all part of the king's strategy.
Daniel decided to abstain from the king's table, not because of conscience, but because he understood what was happening. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to overwhelm him with the opportunities of the good life in Babylon.
Daniel was determined to live and prosper in Babylon, but he would never allow Babylon to consume his heart. He would never forget that he served a greater King. Yet he needed some way to keep that fixed in his mind. So he chose to turn down a daily visit to the top restaurant in town, and instead eat his brown bag lunch of veggies.
Every day we are bombarded by a view of life that is self-centred and completely secular, "Nothing in this world matters more than you!"
If you want to survive as a believer in this seductive secular culture, you'll need to develop the ability to say "no” to the good things it offers and focus your mind on what is “excellent.”
Daniel’s decision was an act of the will. This is critical to an effective Christian life: The grace of God... instructs us to live in a righteous and sensible us way.
Some of us operate as if the only question to be answered in the practical decisions of life is: "Is it right or wrong?" But what we should also be asking is, Is it wise? What company should we keep? On what should we spend our money? How will we make sure our soul is not consumed with the opportunities surrounding us, so that our distinctive faithfulness to God becomes nothing more than a memory?
When Daniel took the lead in abstaining from the king's food, his four friends found the courage to do the same.
Our decisions have an influence on other people, increasing the pressure on them or increasing their strength.
We are surrounded by Babylon's open doors of opportunity; we are enticed by all its consuming luxury. Are we realistic about the pressure that it brings on our soul? Sometimes parents are distressed over some of the things that their children are learning from their interaction with the virtual world of social media and youth culture.
There is nothing new under the sun. It is exactly the situation that was faced by Daniel.
I find it a great encouragement that God has given us a model of how one godly youngster and a group of his friends stood against that pressure so that, far from their secular education undoing them, it was actually the making of them. In the goodness of God, their Babylonian education became the anvil on which their faith was hammered into maturity.
Be encouraged and keep relying on the wisdom that God provides as you come alongside your children.