By Irvin Himmel
The devil is subtle. His devices and approaches are varied. We need to be on guard, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).
One of the devil’s most effective tools is compromise. Down through the ages he has weakened Cod’s people and turned things to the advantage of wickedness by the use of this tool.
Compromise is a settlement or adjustment by concession. Willingness to yield is the heart of compromise. Someone must relinquish something or else there can never be a compromise.
For example, the seller of an automobile is asking $3,000 for his used car. A buyer offers him $2,300. The price differential between the seller and the buyer is adjusted by compromise. After considerable dickering, the seller agrees to split the difference. He yields $230 of the asking price, and the buyer agrees to give $250 more than the initial offer. The deal is made at $2,750.
Pharaoh tried to talk Moses into compromise when God sent him before the Egyptian king with the request to allow the Israelites to depart. Four different compromise proposals were offered by the king. Moses flatly rejected each one.
When Nehemiah was taking the lead in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, Sanballat and his associates tried to subvert the whole plan. Nehemiah was invited to the plain of Ono to talk things over. He steadfastly refused that invitation. He knew that Sanballat and his friends were intent on mischief. To be talked into some kind of compromise with these avowed enemies of the Jews would have been a disaster to the great work of rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah would not compromise.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century a wave of innovations swept congregations in this country. Instrumental music was introduced into the worship, missionary societies were organized, and other unscriptural practices accompanied these. Some very popular preachers championed these unauthorized practices and led many churches into digression. Other preachers took a strong stand against all practices not authorized in the New Testament. and despite their lack of popularity, helped to keep a few congregations true to Jesus Christ. Some preachers attempted to compromise. They did not endorse the innovations, but they wished to maintain fellowship with the men and churches which did endorse them, and their influence for truth was largely nullified.
In the twentieth century, history has repeated itself. A generation ago certain preachers championed church support of human institutions and the practice of centralizing under one eldership programs of evangelism and benevolence. Some took a strong stand against these practices. A large number of congregations went with the popular movement. Some churches misted these innovations and remained true to Christ. Some preachers really did not favor the idea of churches supporting orphanages, college, and other institutions, but they desired to be in favor with those who did, so they compromised and kept quiet.
Today, some who compromised a generation ago are faced with a strong tide of additional innovations – and these are too numerous to list. They look back and see their own work going down the drain but refuse to admit that their very attitude paved the way for what has followed. And some who formerly spoke out against these in-novations have allowed the desire for unity to put them in a position of speaking favorably, charitably, and com-mendably of congregations in the vanguard of an army of innovators)
There can be no compromise between right and wrong, truth and error, God’s word and the doctrines of men. Compromise will destroy all that a true Christian stands for.
Call to mind the tale about a merchant who put up a sign which read Fresh Fish For Sale Today. A customer who came to the market objected to the word Today. He reasoned that everybody knows it is today. That word was removed and the sign read Fresh Fish For Sale. Another customer said it was obvious that the fish were for sale since this was a store. So down came the words For Sale. That left the words Fresh Fish. Someone else suggested that the word Fresh reflected on the merchant’s integrity; did anyone think he would sell stale fish? Wanting to please everyone, the merchant removed the word Fresh. With only the word Fish left on the sign, some jerk walked in and said, “Why the sign? I could smell you fish two blocks away)”
Many churches of Christ have compromised with denominationalism until they differ from the denomina. tions only in name. Some have compromised with the world to the point that they are “of the world, not really “of” Christ.
Elders, preachers, and Christians in general need to stand with firmness for the truth. No principle of right is of such little value that we dare yield it. This course will not make us popular, but the approval of God is what counts.
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 15, pp. 451-452
August 4, 1983