By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Sometimes battles come from bullies or situations. But other times, struggles come from within as we face temptations. A temptation is a test of our value system and resolve to serve God. While God may give us tests, He never tempts with sin. "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed" (James 1:13-14).
Temptations are Satan's way of damaging our reputation and witness, leading us away from God and His blessings, and planting seeds of doubt concerning God's love and faithfulness.
Daniel and his friends faced many challenges as they lived out their beliefs and their love for God. But one of their greatest temptations came soon after they became leaders within the kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar built a giant gold statue of himself, requiring everyone to bow down and worship it. The consequence for refusal was death in a blazing furnace (see Daniel 3:1-6).
No one is immune to temptation. Proverbs 16:18 warns us, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." With the attitude of "I can handle temptation," we become careless in guarding against it. We may not have golden statues of kings before us, but we have plenty of false idols in our society. An idol is anything we trust for security, provision, or fulfillment. Many times idols hide in our hearts. Whether it is wealth, relationships, or career, we all face the temptation to give too much power to things.
When Daniel's friends were faced with this idol, they didn't have days to consider the situation. They immediately determined the right course of action because they had spent so many hours of their life in communion with God. Their relationship with Him was key to their decision. They knew that in following God, He would remain with them no matter the consequences.
Prayer: God, I pray that I would have such a close relationship with You that I will immediately respond in a way that pleases You when faced with temptations. Help me to be aware of the idols around me and to be on guard against them. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12).