"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

compromise-when is it a sin?

Compromise is a word that is also an action. It is viewed in many ways, good and bad, sometimes at the same time (paradox). Sometimes it is sin. The question is where is the line?
Too often I see many people compromising in a variety of areas (that especially includes the “church”). We often use the word tolerance. Now that word can stir up a number of emotions in people. Some see it as some sort of “enlightenment”. The other side sees it as a form of treason. Then there is everywhere in-between. The question is: when does it become sin? I personally often see compromise in a negative sense. In many areas scripture is clear but when you look closer there are many places where it is rather a large gray area. The problem is not everyone’s gray area is the same size. And often peripheral issues are seen as primary issues or vice-versa. Some take a gray area in Scripture and make it black and white for themselves.
One of the many compromises I see is ignoring sin. Truth be told, I have little respect for someone who is unwilling to deal with blatant sin, whether in himself or those under him. I see it at all levels, from the leader to the guy sitting in the cubicle, to the laborer in the field. It is very sad to see. I have a tendency to expect the best and the most of people, and sadly I have been very disappointed at times. That can be very difficult to get over depending on how “close” I am to the situation. Tolerating sin is sin.
So how do we judge whether it is sin or not? Is each situation just supposed to be different for each person? That just doesn’t seem quite right. If we believe that the Bible is our handbook for life, what does that tell you? Where is that checklist??? There are some things that are very obvious to me. Things I am not willing to lose my integrity over. One of the things our instructor at MTI last week observed is that we both fiercely desire integrity and justice.
Maybe we are still seeking worldly approval. Maybe we just want a line in the sand to be reassured we are on the right side of the line. But maybe my line is different from yours? Where are the concretes in the bible?

Exodus 20:1-17 (TLB)
1 Then God issued this edict:
2 "I am Jehovah your God who liberated you from your slavery in Egypt.
3 "You may worship no other god than me.
4 "You shall not make yourselves any idols: no images of animals, birds, or fish. 5 You must never bow or worship it in any way; for I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god! "And when I punish people for their sins, the punishment continues upon the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who hate me; 6 but I lavish my love upon thousands of those who love me and obey my commandments.
7 "You shall not use the name of Jehovah your God irreverently, nor use it to swear to a falsehood. You will not escape punishment if you do.
8 "Remember to observe the Sabbath as a holy day. 9 Six days a week are for your daily duties and your regular work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God. On that day you are to do no work of any kind, nor shall your son, daughter, or slaves—whether men or women—or your cattle or your house guests. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heaven, earth, and sea, and everything in them, and rested the seventh day; so he blessed the Sabbath day and set it aside for rest.
12 "Honor your father and mother, that you may have a long, good life in the land the Lord your God will give you.
13 "You must not murder.
14 "You must not commit adultery.
15 "You must not steal.
16 "You must not lie.
17 "You must not be envious of your neighbor’s house, or want to sleep with his wife, or want to own his slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else he has."

What happens when 2, 3, 4 (or more) of these are all “culturally” acceptable? Does culture supersede the Bible or is sin still sin? Do we learn “tolerance” and let them going on sinning?
In Africa and most third world cultures, lying is definitely not a big deal, even the Pastors do it! They just call it saving face. Do we compromise on our own integrity and allow them to continue doing it around us as long as things (whatever they are) get done? Is a half truth still a lie? Is that the cost of doing “business” in Africa (whatever that business may be)? We were once told that by someone in reference to their accounting-they just expected their books to always be a little off. And the treasurer of that group told us, “I just have to be within 90%.” WHAT?! You expect it—and you allow it, so guess what? It’s going to happen.
We knew one guy who was a compulsive liar. His truth was whatever it needed to be at the time so he avoided any trouble. The problem is when you lie so much, you don’t know the truth anymore.
Now don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of national friends, and yes, they lied to me. Many were just the “little white lies”, but there were others that had to have thought I was the biggest idiot in the world if they honestly thought I wouldn’t know they were lying (heck there are many Westerners who did the same thing). Some lied to try to get me to get after someone else. Some lied because they were ashamed (they needed some thing but didn’t want to come right out and ask me), others lied just because they wanted something. So we do have to learn to live and function within that type of a culture. One of the easiest ways unfortunately is just to expect that there is always a whole lot more behind anything you are told, than just what you are being told. But I believe we still need to hold them accountable to those lies when we catch them in it. When we see it, we need to call it out. A stern lecture won’t do much good though. We do it in the culturally acceptable way through another party to help them save face-it really won’t be accepted otherwise. And this is just one of the many issues that you have to reconcile within yourself, with Christ, when you live in another culture. Well, truthfully it isn’t any better here in the States. We are all living in another culture-because this world is not our home. We are to be a part of the kingdom culture. We all have to have that line we won’t cross-where no other person or ministry or any “good” thing-that place where we won’t allow our integrity in Christ to be compromised.

Actions speak louder than words, and the personal life of the messenger determines the volume and clarity of the message.

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