Yes, you read it right – not the Purpose-Driven Life, but the Purposed-Driven Heart.
Let me first clarify that I am not in any way disputing the truths contained in Rick Warren’s bestselling work. Indeed, it is wonderful to know the purpose for which God created us and placed us here on earth. When appropriately discovered and lived out, what we have is a life of meaning and significance as God intended. Now that due credit has been given to Pastor Rick, let’s move on to what this article is really about.
First, the verse that provoked me this morning: “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.”
Daniel had been exiled to Babylon but received rather good treatment from the King. He was to be given the king’s delicacies and wine. Not bad for a young Hebrew man in an unknown environment. And yet, Daniel refused this preferential treatment “that he would not defile himself”. I wondered what the big deal was. After all, it was merely food and drink. It may have mattered to Daniel then, but what would it mean for redeemed, under grace Christians today? It’s tough to discern whether one is being in or of the world, isn’t it? As I pondered deeper, the significance of this verse hit me!
I began to see that “the king’s delicacies” referred to the comforts, trappings and blessings of this world. These do not build us up but soften us as the people of God. Commenting about John the Baptist, Jesus contrasted his odd and radical clothing with those dressed in soft garments (Matt 11:7-12). Look around the church today and what do you see? Strong, mighty and uncompromising men and women of God? Or people chasing after Babylon’s delicacies?
Also, the king’s “wine” refers to a different wine, a different spirit that we might be filled with, as opposed to that of the Holy Spirit. Paul warned in Eph 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine … but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” We need to understand that “to be filled by” simply means “to yield control to”. Are we sons and daughters of God led and controlled by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:14)? Or have we unwittingly subjected ourselves to the Babylonian system of debt and deception, mistaking it for the biblical promise of blessing and prosperity?
For sure, the pull of the world is strong. The offerings are very attractive, providing more than a few opportunities to compromise. But as Daniel purposed in his heart not to be defiled by the things of Babylon, so too are we to purpose in our hearts to live holy before the Lord and the world. This resolution and conviction to live for Jesus must be so strong and so decided that nothing will rock or shake us in the days to come.
I don’t think Daniel lived a purpose-driven life. Instead, he had a purposed-driven heart, one resolutely purposed to bring God all glory and honour, regardless the outcome. With such a heart sold out for God, the Lord used Daniel powerfully and honoured him with full meaning and great significance in all he did.