When It’s Time to Take a Stand

When was the last time you had to take an unpopular stand? 

We sometimes hear high-profile news stories of Christians and Christian companies refusing to compromise on matters of faith or conscience. Some win victories, while others suffer loss.

History brims with examples of people and groups who challenged government, culture, or tradition. Some protested in defiance and anger. They demanded their rights and used violence to champion them. Others stood vocally but respectfully in the face of oppression, prejudice, or injustice.

We’ll probably never take on a king or the Supreme Court, but we will face circumstances that will require us to stand for what we believe. Thankfully, Scripture shows us how to do it.

Daniel in Exile

Daniel was a young man who was taken captive by the invading forces of Babylon. Among the first to be carried off into exile by Nebuchadnezzar’s army, he was one of Judah’s finest. Smart, handsome, and insightful, Daniel and his companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, caught the eye of Ashpenaz, chief of the king’s court officials. He chose Daniel and his friends for a special training program to prepare them for government leadership.

Similar to a master’s program at Harvard, for three years they would study the language and literature of the Babylonians. At the end of their education, they would enter the king’s service.

For captured exiles ripped from their homeland, emasculated, and forced to embrace a foreign culture, country, and community, it was a sweet deal. The new government would house, clothe, feed, and educate Daniel and his comrades and prepare them for a new future.

Trouble in Babylon

All went well until Daniel read the menu in the dining hall. While most young men would have cheered to learn they’d be eating the finest food and drink from the king’s table, Daniel knew he was in trouble.

The Babylonians worshipped a plethora of idolatrous gods and sacrificed food and wine to them in their temples. After the food had been offered to the idols, it would be resold in the marketplace. Much of the food at the king’s table was probably first offered as an idolatrous sacrifice.

Daniel knew to consume these pagan offerings would be a sin and an affront to God.

His response to this challenge is a valuable model for us to follow when we’re called to take a stand. Let’s learn from his example. In Daniel 1, we see six steps.

Six Steps for Taking a Stand

1. Determine if it’s a moral issue.

Because Daniel knew the Scriptures, he knew that consuming meat offered to idols would be a sin. This wasn’t a matter of preference. While the Bible encourages us to yield our preferences for the good of others and the cause of Christ (1 Cor. 10:31–32), we can’t and shouldn’t compromise on moral (right/wrong) issues. God’s Word declared that idolatry was a sin, and Daniel had one option. He could not sin. 

2. Resolve not to compromise your beliefs.

Daniel didn’t know how the official would respond to his appeal, but he was prepared to suffer the consequences of his “disobedience.” Because he was a man of character and faith, he was willing to endure the temporary results of man’s displeasure so he would not dishonor God. 

3. Pave the way for your appeal.

Sadly, some Christians are known as “difficult” by their coworkers and employers. Instead of being hard-working team players, they act as if they are morally superior and privileged. Daniel complied with everything the officials asked him to do with a good attitude. Although they had marched him more than 1,600 miles to Babylon and forced him to serve the government that had killed his countrymen and destroyed his homeland, Daniel served them as if he were serving God himself (1 Cor. 10:31). 

4. Appeal respectfully.

Instead of demanding his rights, decrying the paganism of his captors, or calling for an uprising, Daniel prayerfully approached the king's official. He asked for permission to not defile himself with the king’s food. His respectful approach opened the door for discussion, not debate. 

5. When appropriate, offer an alternative.

When Ashpenaz expressed concern that he’d get in trouble if Daniel and his compatriots didn’t appear as healthy as the other men, Daniel offered a compromise. 

“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” (Dan. 1:12–13) 

6. Trust God to work in the heart of authorities.

Every appeal must be bathed in prayer. As Daniel sought God’s direction, he asked Him to do what only He could do—change someone’s heart. “God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs”(v. 9), and Ashpenaz agreed to the compromise (v. 14).

What Happened Next?

If you’re familiar with the story, you know God supernaturally worked not only in the official’s heart, but also in Daniel and his comrades’ health. 

At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. (v. 15–16)

Not All Stands End the Way We Hope

I wish every stand for righteousness ended like Daniel’s story. Unfortunately, they don’t. Two chapters later, Daniel’s companions, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, probably emboldened by Daniel’s example, took their own stand. Commanded to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, they courageously refused. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16–18)

When their appeal failed, they suffered the consequences.

Regardless of the outcome of our stand, God can use our example to accomplish His will and work in the world. Sometimes God delivers us from the fires of trial, and sometimes He walks through them with us (Dan. 3:25). Either way, He is glorified.

Even If

When you face a challenge like Daniel did, I encourage you to follow his example. Resist the temptations to react defensively, demand your rights, and take militant action. When you stand for Christ, don’t forget to be Christ-like. We can’t challenge the world by acting like the world. 

May God grant us, like Daniel, the courage to stand for right in our troubled world.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)