Read Genesis 39:10-12 to see how Joseph evaded the trap of short-term sexual pleasure. Read Hebrews 11:24-25 to see the relationship between faith and self-denial.
What’s the difference between willpower and God-power when it comes to self-control? What does it mean for you to know that self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
You’re seated in a small room with a table in front of you. On the table is a tray of puffy white confections that most of us know and love— marshmallows. A man shows up and explains that he is going to leave the room for a few minutes. While he’s gone, you can ring a bell to summon him back and then eat a treat. Or you can wait until he returns and then receive two marshmallows. The test is supposed to measure a person’s ability to exchange short-term pleasure for a better long-term outcome.
Daniel decided to put off the pleasure of his “daily ration of food and wine” (Daniel 1:5) from King Nebuchadnezzar’s kitchens in order to honor God. It’s likely that the king’s kitchens produced mountains of roast meat, loaves of warm bread, jugs of top-notch wine, and towers of cakes dripping with honey.
However, “Daniel was determined not to defile himself” by eating the king’s comfort food (Daniel 1:8). Notice, Daniel was determined. As a captive in Babylonia, it must have been hard to say “please pass the spinach” when the king’s delicacies were being offered (Daniel 1:12).
Some Bible commentaries present the idea that Daniel refused the food because it had been offered to idols, or that it was a way of staying separate from the Babylonian culture. Whatever the reason, Daniel’s self-restraint honored God. The Lord blessed the brave young man and his friends with aptitude in their Babylonian studies, and Daniel was able to interpret visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17). What’s more, he and his fellow dieters looked healthier than the guys who feasted on the king’s food! (Daniel 1:15).
The next time you face a test like Daniel, consider the long-term result of the immediate pleasure. Honoring God in this life is what matters most in the long run.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 11:1-36
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