Stand Up For What Is Right
Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of rams to Him. For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshipping idols – 1 Sam. 15:22-23 (LIVING).
What is wrong with compromise you would ask? After all since no one is an island in himself or herself what is better than each of us is giving up some of our principles and demands so that we can reach a settlement and avoid conflict? Is it not clear that in many outbreaks of violence and carnage lack of compromise are a direct result? You are right. It is certainly important in a situation of conflicting demands for each side to give up some of its demands. Call it a CONSENSUS decision. That kind of compromise is good – it promotes peace, it strengthens relationships, it fosters understanding.
But that is not what we are discussing here. We are talking about a situation where we throw overboard principles or ideas or positions we know to be right in order to gain favour or stay in the good books of friends and society. Unfortunately such compromise robs us of our ability to maintain standards of behaviour and ethics that will be for our good eventually.
The thing about this kind of compromise is that we end up rationalizing, that is, applying a good purpose to something that is inherently wrong. Our excuses often go like any or all of these:
• everybody does that;
• I do not want to be accused of being too “something”;
• it is only bending the rules a little;
• that is the way the system operates;
• Ghana ha dee saara na ye ye no;
• who is going to know?;
• the end justifies the means;
• we are only human beings;
• if I do not do it, I will lose respect;
• this is politics;
• once I get to the top (by cheating and deception) I will fix the system;
• if you cannot beat them, join them.
Sometimes we even go as far as saying “don’t worry, I am planning to give a lot of my profits to my Church” (as if God needs our dirty money).
THE HIGH COST OF COMPROMISE
In the Bible, we have several incidences of people who have paid the high cost of compromising the one intrinsic principle in our walk with God – OBEDIENCE. Saul, that handsome first God-appointed King of Israel lost the throne because of compromise – he failed to fully obey the instructions given by God and rationalized his behaviour. In 1 Sam. 15, God instructs Saul to wage battle against the Amalekites, making sure that he totally annihilates them – people and beasts. Off to battle Saul goes, except that he decides to do things his own way, side track a little: Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag King of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
God was grieved at Saul’s compromise and sent Samuel to confront him. Saul did not see anything wrong in his actions and actually said that they had saved the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. God’s answer to Saul’s disobedience should serve as a warning to us so that in all situations, we do not slip up and think that a little compromise is alright: Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice. And to heed is better than the fat of rams – 1 Sam. 15:22. Saul lost the kingdom because rather than staying with the principle of obedience, he chose the compromising stand of bending the rule a little so that he could please his people (I am afraid of the people so I gave in to them – vrs 24).
THE MAJORITY IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT
We all love to be accepted by our peers and by the society. However, if we do not take care that it is these very people who would lead us down the paths of destruction through numerous compromises. In contrast to Saul’s behaviour, Daniel in the Old Testament stands out as someone who resolved to stand by his principles come what may. God rewarded Daniel with great wisdom and spiritual insight, favour with kings and emperors, prophetic utterances, a glimpse into the plans of God and eternal life.
Sticking to his principles did not always make life easy for Daniel but eventually he always came out top because God honoured his obedience. In Daniel 1:8 for example, Daniel resolves not to eat the food served from the king’s table even though to many that privilege in itself should have been enough to compromise on the Jewish principle of not eating certain types of meat (pigs and all meat sacrificed to idols). I can well imagine the troubles he would have had from some of his peers. They would have called him names and even accused him of “over-worshipping” God. He however stuck to his guns and in return, he reaped the following:
• the guard who was supervising them, liked him enough to give him (and the 3 others what they asked for – vegetables and water;
• God made him look healthier than those who were eating the “choice” food from the king’s table;
• God gave him high intellectually and spiritual knowledge;
• he was selected into the king’s high service and was found to be ten times better in every matter of wisdom and understanding than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom – Daniel 1:20.
Later on in his life, Daniel’s principled life was a source of great jealousy and hatred from some of his peers but even when they were plotting his destruction, they testified to his life of ethical and moral excellence. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among administrators and the Satraps by his exceptional qualities that the King planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent – Dan. 6:3-4.
HOLD ON TO YOUR PRINCIPLES
Daniel made enemies by doing a good job and not compromising his principles. Perhaps you are going through a similar situation. At home, at work, even in church, you are catching flak for being “too rigid.” If being rigid means you are refusing to join the crowd in doing wrong even when it has become the norm, then praise God for your “lonely’ life. Remember that whenever you stand for what is true and right, people will look for ways to hold you back and tear you down. They will cheer at your slightest downfall and even hasten it. They will try to wear you down with “emotions blackmail”. However if you conduct your life above reproach, like Daniel you will have nothing to hide and your enemies will have a difficult time finding legitimate charges against you. Of course you can rely on God to vindicate you by protecting you even from the “jaws of the lions.”
1. Compromise flourishes when we do not decide ahead of time to do the right – 1 Sam. 15:22.
2. Compromise occurs when we underestimate evil and flirt with temptation – Eph. 4:27.
3. Compromise is always just a choice away – Eph. 5:15-16
4. Compromise entices through flattery and fantasy – Prov. 7:113-117
5. Compromise ensnares through rationalization and deception – Gal. 5:6; Gen. 3:6
6. Compromise occurs when we refuse to think about the rightness of our actions – 1 Sam. 15:20, 21
7. Compromise is always costly – 2 Chron. 16:7-9.
* Unless otherwise stated all Scripture is from the New International Version.
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