Throughout life we’re faced with game changers: temporary or permanent life changes that occur as a result of circumstances or the choices of others. Some game changers may be viewed as positive such as the birth of a baby or a job promotion. Other game changers may be viewed as negative or having a negative impact such as the loss of a job or the diagnosis of a terminal illness.
In addition to game changers we may also face deal breakers. Deal breakers are situations that, if we participated, would cause us to disobey God. These are instances that should prompt us to make specific and often immediate changes in our lives.
How can we distinguish a game changer from a deal breaker?
Consider for a moment the story of Daniel found in the Old Testament. Daniel loved and lived for God. When he was a young man, the king of Babylon besieged the city of Jerusalem. Daniel as well as many other Israelites were carried off and held captive in Babylon.
Daniel 1:3-7 tells us: Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them 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. Among those were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
During this time, Daniel experienced some personally significant game changers: He was exiled from his homeland, forced to live in captivity, and trained to serve a pagan king. He was also forced to learn a new language. As if all that wasn’t enough, the king also changed Daniel’s name. Although each of these circumstances in and of themselves could easily be considered life-changing, none of them would cause Daniel to disobey God’s instructions to His people—except for one.
Verse 5 tells us that the king provided Daniel with a daily ration of food. However (and this is a big however), the food was taken from the king’s table. Daniel knew that the food most likely had been sacrificed to idols the pagan king worshipped. Eating food different than his normal diet would have been a game changer for Daniel but eating food offered to idols was a deal breaker.
Have you experienced significant personal game changers?
Do you recognize the spiritual significance of deal breakers?
Are you able to distinguish game changers from deal breakers?
Because Christ-followers are sanctified by the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17), a game changer becomes a deal breaker when it tempts you to compromise biblical principles.
Daniel 1:8 tells us: But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
Daniel provides a wonderful example for us to follow in responding to deal breakers:
- He was proactive in his resolve not to defile himself.
- He drew a line in his life dividing those things that reflect God’s Word from those that do not.
- He chose to stand firm on the side of biblical truth.
- He communicated his convictions through his obedience rather than merely avoiding the situation.
As a result of Daniel’s obedience, God gave Him favor (Daniel 1:9), and he became a strong witness to others. We, too, can be strong witnesses for God by acknowledging deal breakers in our lives. In other words, by correctly responding to each deal breaker we can become living testimonies of Christ’s working in us.