I had the TV on while I was getting ready to go somewhere, and I caught a snatch of a TV talk show. The host was interviewing a former FBI agent - a man who had successfully infiltrated the Mafia and had been responsible for some major indictments. Now, in his underground life, he was, as you might expect, surrounded by cocaine. The talk show host asked the FBI man, "Did you ever have to use cocaine to maintain your cover?" Good question - after all, his life depended on his fitting in. But he answered that question with a firm "No." The host said, "Then how did you avoid having to use cocaine?" I liked his answer. It might even help you where you're feeling the pressure to fit in.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Playing Offense When the Pressure is On."
So how did this Mafia infiltrator deal with the pressure to use cocaine? He said, "When the first guy offered it to me, I hit him." Now, I'm not recommending hitting people who are pressuring you to compromise, but I do like what the FBI man said next. "If you let them know from the start where you stand, they'll leave you alone." Now that's a solid principle for saying "No" to what you know is wrong.
That kind of "no compromise" character is exhibited in our word for today from the Word of God in Daniel 1 beginning at verse 5. Daniel is one of an elite group of Jewish young men who have been selected by the Babylonian king to be trained for royal service. Given the fact that the Jews were captives of the Babylonians, that was an incredible honor. Daniel was on a career path toward the top. And then came the test.
"The king assigned them," the Bible says, "a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service." The crisis here for Daniel was that his commitment to God included not eating some of these foods that were forbidden by Jewish law. Verse 8 says, "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine." That's a gutsy stand, especially when it's the most powerful person on earth asking you to compromise.
Well, Daniel and his friends are allowed to eat only vegetables and water for ten days, after which their condition will be compared to that of the men who are cooperating with the king's diet. And "at the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead." Daniel chose conviction over compromise, and God blessed and promoted him.
Now Daniel could easily have waited to draw the line until he was facing a more major moral compromise. But, like that undercover agent, he let people know from the start where he stood - and they left him alone. Playing offense like that will ultimately work for you, too. Say "No" to the pressure right up front.
As long as people are trying to live like Jesus in a dirty world, there will be pressure to fit in. You probably feel it where you are - the pressure to compromise just a little on the truth, or on your purity, or on your allegiance to Jesus. Every time you compromise a little to fit in, you actually increase the pressure. They'll be back again, expecting you to give in again. But once you take a firm stand, pass a couple of tests, people will let you be what you said you'd be. My son summed it when he was in high school. "Life is so much simpler when you've decided to just be totally for Christ." Well, he's right.
Starting now, why don't you verbally, clearly, graciously let it be known where you stand. Pretty soon, they'll back off and expect you to be what you said you would be. When you're soft like Play-Doh, they'll just keep squeezing. When you're solid like a rock, they'll realize that their squeezing is never going to change what you are.