Why We Just CAN’T Compromise

I knew what would happen. If I told her she was wrong, I’d be labeled the goody-goody. The holier-than-thou church girl. Might as well buy an orange shirt with the label “judgmental.” Because that’s what I’d be. Always and forever designated “intolerant.”

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 19:1-29
Key Verse: “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” Job 27:6

It’s downright I-think-my-heart-might-beat-out-of-my-chest scary to tell someone they’re wrong. To stand firm on Biblical truth. So instead we tend to compromise. Meet in the middle. Adjust God’s decrees just a little here and there so we don’t have to worry about it. But…

Compromise will always cost more than courage.

What if I told you the word compromise isn’t even in the Bible? Thought provoking isn’t it? God’s not interested in fifty-fifty. He refused to meet us halfway so he made himself THE way. He commanded we love him with our whole heart, not just half. In fact he told the church at Laodicea. And I paraphrase: The fact that you’re so halfhearted, neither hot nor cold, makes me want to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:15) Yikes!

Yet somewhere along the way we’ve gotten the idea a little give and take is a good thing. A necessary fact of life. A practicality for living the best life. But is it?

Lot (Abraham’s nephew) thought so. He moved to the Jordan Valley because it was lush and green like the garden of God (Gen. 13:10). Yet the beauty of his surroundings didn’t captivate him for long. He ended up taking residence in the city. Maybe it looked exciting. Maybe he enjoyed the hustle and bustle. Maybe he saw promise of climbing the corporate ladder or political gain. Maybe like many of us he was chasing the perfect recipe for happiness. More money. A family. Success. No matter, to live among the wicked men of Sodom undoubtedly required some compromise. Some settling of values. Some give in God’s decrees.

So did it work? Did adjusting righteous standards to encompass unrighteous living lead to happiness? 2 Peter 2:8 says Lot’s righteous soul lived in torment day after day because of the lawless deeds he saw and heard. He was miserable! Could this be why so many Christians struggle with joy? Because they’ve made too many adjustments to God’s standards and settled too much? Psalm 119:2 says “Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart.” Oh LORD please “Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found” (Psalm 119:35, NLT).

Lot had surrounded himself with people who cared nothing for the LORD. And it caused him much heartache. I can’t even fathom his distress when the men of Sodom surrounded his home. Crudely demanding, “Release your guests so we can have sex with them!”(Gen. 19:5, NLT) Terrified Lot offered his virgin daughters as victims for their sexual satisfaction.

Um excuse me. How could he do that? I have no response except to say in order to protect his guests, he did what he’d always done with the people of Sodom, and compromised. There is danger in allowing even a little wiggle room to surround God’s commands. The more we do it the easier it gets. And before we know it we’ve gone too far.

Compromise will always cost more than courage. It not only cost Lot his home, his wife, his career. It cost him his integrity. At the urging of the angels he warned his sons-in-law; but they merely thought him jesting (v. 14). “Angels? Yeah sure Lot. Like any angels would visit you!” And in the end found himself in a cave with nothing but his two deceitful daughters (more on that next week).

Now if happiness and integrity aren’t incentive enough for you to stake a claim in God’s Word with undaunting determination. Let me give you a third one. This whole Sodom scenario happened again. But not in a Canaanite society as we might expect. In Israel. In a town called Gibeah; a town belonging to the Benjaminites; a tribe of God’s own people. Judges 19 records the horrific details.

A Levite was traveling through town with his concubine. A foreigner offered them shelter for the night. They washed their feet, ate, and drank. As they visited the men of Gibeah surrounded the home. Shouting, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judg. 19:22, NLT). Terrified the Levite forced his concubine outside it hopes of appeasing their threats. But this time there were no angels. The woman was used and abused “all night until morning.” When dawn broke she made it back to the doorstep and died.

Twice. The same awful scenario twice. Why? Because it’s not just a happen so. When God’s people compromise the eventual result is a society devoid of God. A society in which homosexuality becomes the norm and evil is the standard. Judges 21:25 says it was a time in which “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But it didn’t happen overnight. It happened over time with a little adjustment here and a small deviation there. Until there was no truth left to stand upon.

So what do we do? We exhibit confidence in God’s ways. We speak up. We speak truth. Secure in the strength He gives to do what’s right. Let’s stop compromising. Let’s move forward in unswerving submission. It will not only bring joy. It will result in respect. And a people who know right from wrong.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What Biblical standards is it popular for today’s society to compromise on?
In what areas have you made compromises, to either allow yourself some wiggle room, or avoid that awkward conversation with a friend?
What might compromise cost you? What might courage cost you?image

Sometimes We Need to Let Go

Devo Scripture: Genesis 13
Key Verse: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps. 1:1-2

We cling to things…don’t we? Tight. Like that dream, that child, that house, that job, that plan, that money is the one thing that will make us happy. The one thing. So we pray. We take it to God and we beg him for it. Please LORD, please just this once answer my prayer the way I want you to. Or we fight for it. At the risk of losing everything…we fight. We let it consume us until every thought, every moment, every whisper is for it and it alone. Never mind our witness. Never mind our relationships. Never mind our God.

And it very well might rightfully be yours. You may have worked hard for it. It belongs to you. So no way should you have to let go of it. No way. It wouldn’t be fair. After all it’s yours. Don’t worry I feel the same way. It’s mine…my reputation, my security, my comfort, my desire, my life, my idea, my hope, my shame, my pride, my sin.

So we cling. Harder. Because “blessed is he who gets what he wants.” Is that it? Is that what Scripture says? No, it’s not. But we act like it is. Atleast I do…when I pray unceasingly for what I want. What I think I need to make me happy. To keep me happy.

But what if we let go? It’s scary, I know. But what if we let go of that which we cling most tightly to. That which we grasp at with such sincere audacity; which we think will make us most happy. What if we actually let go? For starters, maybe we wouldn’t be so worn out. (All that clinging and grasping is exhausting!) Maybe we’d actually “let go and let God” as we allude to. Maybe we’d realize life in HIS hands isn’t so bad after all. Maybe we’d still be ok. And maybe….just maybe we’d learn to trust Jesus who cares for us as we will never fully comprehend.

We might even find blessing. Abram did. When he – for the sake of his witness; for the sake of his relationship with his nephew; for the sake of his relationship with God – let go. They had a problem, he and Lot. They had too many riches! Together they overpowered the available pasture lands and wells. Their herdsmen quarreled. But instead of fighting back. Instead of getting really upset and demanding Lot respect his authority. Instead of pouting, complaining, feeling sorry for himself and stuffing his face with chocolate; instead of gossiping – he went to Lot. And he let go. “Let there be no strife between you and me…Is not the whole land before you?…If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left” (Gen. 13:8-9).

So Lot took a good look around (likely they were on elevated ground). “And saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt” (Gen. 13:10). It looked good! After the famine; after seeing Egypt; it looked really good. So he took it. All of it! (Blessed is he who gets what he wants. Right??) Problem was the land included Sodom. And the men of Sodom “were wicked, great sinners against the LORD” (Gen. 13:13). And because of his choice to dwell in wickedness Lot would lose much, including his wife. He would live daily with a tormented soul (2 Peter 2:8). No, he wasn’t blessed. But Abram was.

Abram, who let go. Abram, who worshiped God upon his return from Egypt. Abram, who learned to trust, with a ruthless trust, the Almighty God. He was greatly blessed. For God appeared to him and said look around. All the land you see I give to you and your descendants. Forever! Go and walk through it! So I imagine Abram did. I imagine he took a nice long walk. But then settled “by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron” (Gen. 13:18). He settled in rich communion with God; for Mamre can mean “richness” and Hebron means “communion.” What an incredible place to be…settled in rich communion with God. Truly Abram was blessed. For all communion with God is a blessing.

And we want blessing. Don’t we? Because it make us happy. And truly happiness is what we seek! It’s why we cling. It’s why we grasp. Because we want to be happy. And we think we know just what will make us happy. But do we? Do we really know? God’s made it clear. And it’s not always getting what we want. It’s doing what HE wants. That’s what will make us happy.

It’s not a coincidence the Hebrew and Greek words for blessed can be translated “happy”. It’s by design. God’s perfect design. Because happiness cannot be found in a dream, a hope, a wish, a goal. It’s found in Him…

Blessed [happy] is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps. 1:1-2

Blessed [happy] is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!” Ps. 112:1

Behold, blessed [happy] is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17

Blessed [happy] is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Prov. 3:13

Blessed [happy] is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Ro. 4:8

Blessed [happy] are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8

Blessed [happy] are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:10

Seek after Jesus my friend. Seek him with all your heart. Live always for him. Even if it means…you have to let go. For the sake of your relationships; for the sake of your witness; for the sake of His glory -sometimes we have to let go. But I have no doubt if it’s for his glory you’ll find yourself blessed. You’ll find yourself…happy.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you clinging to; what are you grasping for; that you need to let go of today?
What have you sought after for happiness? (A better body; love; wealth; position; honor) What does Scripture say will make you happy?