ODJ: Raise the Temperature

June 30, 2016 

READ: Daniel 1:1-21  

Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods (v.8).

When I meet people who have lived overseas, I ask what they noticed about our culture upon their return to our country. Some appreciate our culture’s energy and ‘can do’ spirit, while others lament our individuality and lack of social interaction. Every culture has strengths and weaknesses, but we can help shape the culture that shapes us.

When Daniel and his friends were carted off to Babylon, they could have gone along with whatever their leaders imposed (Daniel 1:3). They could have become thermometers that reflected the temperature of their culture. Instead, they chose to become thermostats that raised the temperature. Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food, and his three friends declared they wouldn’t bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (3:16-18). Their faithful witness had a profound effect on the king, among others.

Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? Consider the values of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ll probably see your own. We must carefully choose our friends, for “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

And yet, the Spirit of God working in and through us can influence the temperature of our friends. When they invite us to watch something inappropriate, we can suggest a healthier alternative. When they talk disparagingly about someone or something, we can choose to speak positively. And when they pile up debt to finance their latest impulse, we can encourage them to save and find ways to hang out that don’t cost money.

We’re called to be thermostats, not thermometers. God graciously gives us His love and wisdom. By His power, may we raise the spiritual temperature around us.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan: Matthew 5:31-48

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-17 to learn how to raise rather than reflect the spiritual temperature of your culture. 
How have you influenced your family and friends for good? How have you allowed them to drag you down? How has God equipped you to turn up the spiritual temperature around you?