“Let’s compromise on this”
Sounds so reasonable doesn’t it? Christian even. But I have been pondering what compromise is, what drives it and what God thinks about it.
According to the dictionary, in the context I am thinking about, compromise is defined as “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands”.
The problem is this:
The Bible doesn’t ever tell us to compromise or accommodate in any way.
There is no middle ground between sin and righteousness.
Our 21st century sensibilities find many of the stories from the Old Testament horrible and distasteful. Some even use these as a reason to reject the gospel altogether, but the overwhelming message they send us is DO NOT COMPROMISE with those people who, or those practices which oppose God. Take every action you can to remove them from your midst.
Jesus similarly says do not compromise even within our own bodies “if your eye causes you to sin it would be better to gouge it out than to spend eternity in hell” (Matthew 5:29)
Paul tells us not to compromise the gospel. 2 Corinthians 11:4 says “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
In an interpersonal sense, compromise is also a very unchristian characteristic. Time and again in the Bible we are told that as Christians we are to think of others and put their needs first. We are told by Jesus that we are to always love others with that self-sacrificing, preferring others love which God has for us, in the Christian context, what I want always comes second to the needs of others.
Compromise flies in the face of such teaching. Compromise at its heart is selfish. Compromise is a mechanism for me to get as much of I want as I can by some form of negotiation if I am unable to get it all my own way.
Just like the lie satan span to Eve in the garden about the ‘forbidden fruit’ which promised everything and left Adam and Eve with nothing: compromise promises fulfilment and delivers disappointment.
Ultimately compromise is an agreement neither party is satisfied by.