<<concession, giving in>>
To compromise is to make concessions on established rules and standards. It is the outcome when one or both parties give up all or part of their demands or opinions, negotiating a solution somewhere between the two starting points. Compromise is a necessary ingredient in getting along with others, and often to reach an agreement and when keeping the peace is more desirable than getting one’s own way for we are free to have different opinions and viewpoints when no clear directives are given in the Bible or moral issues are not involved.
It is vital to know when compromise is appropriate and when it is not. We can compromise on preferences but not on principles, values or standards. With those matters that God has clearly addressed there is to be no bargaining, negotiation or ‘bending the rules’ rather complete obedience. The Bible’s instruction to us is, “Be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut 5:32, 10:12, 11:13). The Bible, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord” (Ps 119:1-3; Prov 11:20). However, as Christians and churches we are not to tolerate sin or trade-off God’s non-negotiable laws or principles for the sake of peace or so we don't give offense. King Saul’s compromise on clear, God-given orders was blatant disobedience (1 Sam 15:3,9-15).
The areas in which we are not to compromise include: obeying the directives of the Bible, loving God with our whole being, obeying God rather than man if there is a conflict of interest, in ethics and morals, or the core essentials of the Christian faith (Josh 1:8; Mk 12:30; Act 5:29; Rom 12:17; Eph 5:3; 1 Tim 4:16). We should not ignore our conscience either as it is a valuable guide letting us know when we are about to violate our values (Rom 14:5,22,23).
Commitment and obedience to God cannot be negotiated. After several requests by Moses to let the Israelites go and worship God in the wilderness, Pharaoh presented a compromise, “Worship God here” but Moses was not hook winked (Ex 5:1, 8:25). Later the Israelites were told not to entertain any thought of compromise with the heathen nations by adopting their practices – yet to their peril, they did not listen (Ex 34:12-17; Deut 7:1-4; Josh 23:12,13). Temptation is the opportunity to compromise by dabbling in the “fleeting pleasures of sin” involving the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (Heb 11:25; 1 Jn 2:16). This normally starts subtly in the ‘grey areas’ where there is no clear directions or what is given is open to various interpretations. However, what started small can soon escalate into major areas of backsliding.
Do not compromise on non-negotiable aspects of the faith
try to accommodate the world’s thinking or your standards and beliefs will slowly and subtly erode, starting in one area, then spreading to other key areas, as sensitivity to sin and obedience to the Holy Spirit is dulled. While we are to mix with the unsaved we are to be aware that "Bad company corrupts good behaviour" (Jn 17:14-16; 1 Cor 15:33).
We naturally identify with those we love and have close dealings with. This is why Christians are not to form binding relationships, including marriage, with, non-Christians because there will be divided loyalties and conflict between light and darkness, inevitably leading to compromise (2 Cor 6:14-17).
Surrendering to compromise can be driven by the fear of being rejected or criticized and amounts to trying to serve two conflicting masters at the same time – which is an impossibility (Lk 16:13). The Bible says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Rom 13:14). Our lifestyle must back up our words of calling Him 'Lord' (Mt 7:21).
Paul was astonished that some believers were compromising on the truth they had been taught, turning to a different gospel (that salvation required our works too) – which because it was not based on the Word of God would not result in salvation (Gal 1:6,7; 2 Tim 4:3; Heb 13:9). They viewed salvation as a human endeavour rather than as an act of God. We must always be on our guard as none of us is immune to spiritual compromise. This can happen when we are impatient with God’s timing, when we want to please people rather than God, are lax in our spiritual disciplines, excuse sin rather than accepting responsibility for it or refuse to submit to God’s ways. Some early Christians were commended for their diligence to clarify what they had been taught was confirmed in the Scriptures (Act 17:11).
See also: choice, conform, conscience, ethics, integrity, morals, non-negotiable, peer pressure, spiritual disciplines, standards, tolerate, viewpoint.