I recently read a story about Charles Spurgeon, the 19th-century British evangelist, who was conducting a boys Bible class on the book of Daniel.
One of the boys was asked to read some verses aloud, and he came to the passage in Daniel 6:3 which reads “…Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.”
By mistake, the boy read it, “…because an excellent spine was in him.”
Sounds like the kind of mistake too often found in ThePreachersWord. However, while it was an incorrect rendering, it was pretty good theology. Daniel was a man of backbone, courage, and conviction. But his decisions and determination resulted from his focus and purpose in life.
When Daniel was first taken into Babylonian captivity from Judah the Bible says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Dan 1:8)
Purpose is vitally important in life. It gives us direction. Provides motivation. Supplies courage. Supports your passion. And regulates your decision-making.
The word purpose has become a buzz word today. Churches, preachers, and authors often speak of being “Purpose Driven.” But that concept did not originate in pop culture.
Daniel was a purpose driven prophet. He was driven by God’s purpose for his life. Compelled to a higher level of living. A nobler moral standard. A Divine decree.
We are not told what royal “delicacies” were a violation of God’s dietary laws for the Jewish people. But apparently, there was food offered to Daniel that violated both his conscience and the Law of Moses. So, he refused.
Daniel’s denial of the King’s bounty was driven by his purpose to please God. In fact, in future encounters in a foreign land, we observe Daniel’s backbone when he confidently stood before the King to interpret his dreams and give God the credit.
His companions in captivity, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, were also purpose driven. They refused to worship the King’s image. And risked their lives by being thrown into the burning, fiery furnace. They confidently claimed, “Our God is able to deliver us.”
Later, when King Darius decreed that it was unlawful to pray to any other “god” than the king, and the violators would be thrown into the lion’s den, Daniel was unfazed. And unafraid. He continued his practice of prayer to Jehovah, three times a day. He was undaunted in his purpose. The threat of the savage lions not withstanding.
There is much in our corrupt culture that entices us to defile ourselves. Erotic entertainment. Illicit relationships. Unholy alliances. Salacious literature. Obscene websites. Immodest attire. And ungodly companions. Purity of purpose will keep our minds, hearts, and lives from becoming defiled (Titus 1:15; 1Tim. 1:5)
More subtle are the influences that are not inherently sinful, but can lead us away from the Lord, weaken our resolve and compromise our Divine purpose. It may be sports. A career. A hobby. Or even our family.
Let us never forget that by the grace of God we have been saved and called for His own special purpose (Eph 1:11; 2 Tim 1:9).
While C. H. Parkhurst was right, “Purpose is what gives life meaning,” it is God’s eternal purpose through Jesus Christ and offers us spiritual significance both in time and in eternity.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman