The Freedom of Obedience
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
~ Daniel 1:8-17 (NIV)
My brother-in-law, Jack, spent a year as an officer in the Air Force. He was stationed on a base near Bangkok during the Vietnam War. He was married to my sister, Diane, and she was already pregnant with their first child when he was shipped out. Tammelyn was born a month after he began his tour of duty.
Jack did not see Tammelyn or Diane for an entire year. He, too, faced the temptation of having absolute moral freedom while he was overseas. But he decided to remain faithful to my sister. He gave up his freedom, in other words, for something more valuable to him . . .
I was there at the airport when Jack returned after his year away. I witnessed their glorious reunion, as if I was eavesdropping on a miracle. That moment will remain forever imprinted on my memory. Jack stepped off that plane, embraced my sister, and cradled his baby daughter for the first time. They were delirious with joy. Diane and Jack went on to build a good life together . . .
I still think about Jack’s year in Southeast Asia. I reflect on what it must have been like for him to say “no” to temptation, to give up the extraordinary freedom he had there, and to remain true to his wife and baby daughter . . . He had one kind of freedom, the freedom to live an unrestrained life, to “go where you want to go, do what you want to do, live how you want to live,” as the advertisement for “Freedom” reads.
But he gave up that freedom. He chose another kind of freedom, the freedom of obedience. I have observed with respect and appreciation what that freedom has produced in their lives, in their family, and in their community. That is the kind of freedom I wish for my life and my family. It is the freedom of living a life for God, of following God’s will. The one pathway we must follow may limit freedom as culture defines it, but it gives us freedom as the Bible defines it. When we seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, we will do the will of God and experience true freedom.
Dear heavenly Father, I want to live godly in Christ Jesus and I ask that You would help me to develop an attitude of obedience to Your will and an increasing trust in Your Word. Help me to grow in grace, and to develop the right godly practice and scripture purpose in life, so that You are lifted up in my heart and glorified in all I do. May I learn to praise You without ceasing and to develop an attitude of prayfulness – and help me to be obedient to carry out all that I am called to do as a child of God – so that You increase as I decrease. AmenIn Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Devotion taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible.
He gave up his freedom... for something more valuable to him...