Diets, Daniel, and Giving Grace


Vegetables, Fruits, and a Nice Goblet of Water.

Let’s Search Our Hearts Before We Share Our Opinions
Does anyone else beside me believe that the internet has made us meaner? Okay. It hasn’t made us meaner in the same way that ultraviolet rays burn my skin. But it has offered us two elements that can foster cruelty–a soapbox and anonymity–especially since social media has saturated most every corner of the ‘net. Once upon a time geeks and kids posted to bulletin boards and MySpace; today, great-grandparents share photos on Instagram and the president of the United States of America tweets. The whole world, it seems, has gone social: venerated newspapers invite readers to sound off about the stories they read.

Sunday I studied up on Daniel’s diet, and I did that because of some internet enmity on the topic. I’d read a snarky comment, in response to a post about a book on “Daniel’s Diet:”

Daniel didn’t go vegetarian to become healthy, the writer sniped. He asked not to eat the king’s food because he did not want to eat food that had been offered to idols. 

Could be. What we know is that he did not want to “defile” himself. Maybe it was the sacrifice to false gods, maybe it was the unclean status of some of the king’s diet. We don’t really know. But here’s the thing:

My (admittedly brief) research doesn’t indicate that proponents of a diet of seeds, vegetables and water claim that Daniel adopted his diet in search of health. For example:

Saddleback Church, a Really Big Church where I worshiped and served for several years, quotes the “defilement” verse upfront, right in the overview of its Daniel Plan. (Click on the “Focus” tab.)

Time Magazine sidestepped the causality claim when it took up the matter in an article. (This same article also mentioned that Saddleback’s membership has lost 130 tons on the Daniel Plan.)

Basically, this small, fairly mild bit of internet ill-temper is a straw dog maneuver, attacking a claim that was never made. 

Here’s the really hilarious irony: In the Bible story, Daniel proposed a ten-day test. And at the end of the ten days, Daniel and his pals were fatter than the rest of the young men:

11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food.
Daniel 1:11-15 (NASB; my emphasis)

Sometimes, though, the endless parade of malicious remarks isn’t funny. 

Sometimes it piles weight onto shoulders already stooping under a load of tragedy.  

Sometimes it pours salt over already-wounded hearts. 

Do we all have the right to form and hold our own opinions? Of course. Do we all (at least here in the U.S.A.) have the right to free speech? Yes, yes we do. We are within our rights to speak our minds. But should we? 

Maybe not, if we love Jesus. When I was a girl we sang a song called They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love. Meeting the world with relentless love is what we’re called to do. Meanness, not so much.
My reasoning?

1. Snarkiness is not a fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)

2. We’re to be humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB)

3. We’re to speak no evil, avoid quarreling, and be gentle and courteous. 

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)

Thanks for bearing with me. And now, may I ask of you one favor? If you come upon anything I’ve written that’s mean, please do the loving thing and hold me accountable.


I can imagine a world where we’re all out there every day, loving relentlessly. 

Can you?

Leave a Comment