OceanSide church of Christ
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With Purpose of Heart
By: Dalton Gilreath
In 606 BC Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem. He took many of people of Judah captive including a man named Daniel. This was the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. When Daniel arrived he was selected by the king, along with others, to begin a special training course to potentially work in the king’s palace. For three years these men would learn the ways of the Babylonians and be fed a special provision of the king’s food and wine. After the three years passed, they were to be presented to the king for evaluation.
The Bible then says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8 KJV). Daniel made a bold, godly decision. He was not going to partake of the king’s meals, because it was against God’s will. This was probably either due to eating an unclean animal thus violating to the Mosaical Law, or their idol to which they offered these meals. Either way, Daniel was not willing to sin against God. This is quite an example of obedient faith. Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment could have been anything from starving him to a gruesome death. Daniel certainly knew what the outcome of this decision might be, but he did not waiver. As you recall, God was with him, and his leader allowed him to choose the food and see what the outcome of their countenance would be. In less than two weeks the results were great thanks to the providence of God.
What gave Daniel the strength to choose God in such an extreme situation? What can we learn from his attitude to help us replicate this display of courage? The key is found in the phrase, “with purpose of heart”. Daniel did not wait until the circumstance arose to make his decision not to obey men rather than God (Acts 5:29). He made the decision in advance. If we want to have the strength to stay faithful to God during tough times, we too must decide today to follow God with purpose of heart. This is a concept found not only in the Old Testament but also in the New. For example, every man is to give on the first day of the week “as he purposeth in his heart” (2 Cor. 9:7). In other words, when we give we should have already decided ahead of time what that amount would be. Grabbing the check book or reaching for a wallet in the middle of service to see what you have is not giving with purpose of heart. You may give a good amount in the moment, but you still did not do so with the purpose of heart God desires.
Another example is found in Acts 11:23. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch he urged the people desiring “that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord”. He was teaching them to firmly decide in their minds to always stay close to God. There are plenty of decisions in life that we may make without prior thought. Sometimes we are caught off guard and make a quick decision that may or may not turn out to be the right one. However, we cannot allow this to happen with spiritual things. If we want to avoid drunkenness, let’s choose not to have anything to do with alcohol (as opposed to drinking socially and making a poor last minute decision). If we want to avoid missing services Sunday morning, let’s choose our activities wisely on Saturday evening and get in bed at a decent time. Many will not plan ahead and when that alarm goes off Sunday morning they are too tired, they don’t feel good, or maybe they even planned something that interferes with attending worship.
We could look at many other examples, but hopefully we see the difference. Let’s be sure to make the right decisions when it comes to spiritual things like Daniel did. The only way to do so is to choose before that moment comes. Make the decisions now for you and your family. If we do so, we will all find it easier to stay faithful to our God. Remember, God was with Daniel and blessed him just as He will those today who purpose in their heart to follow Him.