Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Fill in the blank: “I think it would be difficult for someone to be a (name a common occupation) and remain a Christian.” Why do you think it would be difficult?
2. How do the ways of the world tempt you to compromise your faith on a regular basis?
Read Daniel 1:8-10.
1. Daniel was separated from his family, was removed from his country, and was being trained to serve in the administration of a pagan king. List some emotions he and his friends might have been experiencing.
2. The text says, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself” (v. 8). Rephrase that verse to create a positive statement. What do you think Daniel had resolved to do? How can a similar resolution help us when we are in crisis?
3. Uncertainty, fear, and despair can cause us to lash out, treating those around us with hostility. How might Daniel have responded to the chief official’s statement in verse 10 in an angry, hostile fashion? What could have been some possible consequences of such a response?
Read Daniel 1:11-16.
4. It is one thing to complain about one’s situation and another thing to be able to answer the question, “What would you like to happen?” Note that Daniel’s plan had a distinct procedure, timeframe, and evaluation plan. Why are each of those elements essential in problem solving?
5. Daniel, in effect, was asking that the royal meal they were offered be replaced by the meal of peasants. What other actions and attitudes of people of faith probably seem incomprehensible to outsiders? Why is offering to test oneself a reasonable response to these situations?
Read Daniel 1:17-21.
6. The computer acronym GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) is often invoked to support an argument that learning about a pagan culture corrupts the life of a believer. Was this true in the life of Daniel and his friends? Explain.
7. Those who worship God are sometimes criticized as being “so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good.” What is meant by that? What evidence in the text shows that this was not true of Daniel and his friends?
8. Verse 21 indicates that Daniel held an influential position in Babylon until the first year of King Cyrus—a period of about 70 years! How can emulating Daniel help Christians have lasting influence in our culture?