(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Oxymoron: The Compromised Christian
By Brittney Perez
Ever heard of the verse from Galatians 5:9 that reads, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” In the Message translation it’s read like this, “It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread.” In other words, it only takes a little bit of compromise to begin a work in you that can lead to full-on destruction.
This idea of a “compromised Christian,” one might say, is contradictory. How can you be a Christian, yet be living a lifestyle or hold beliefs that aren’t “Christian-like?” Being a Christian, as we understand it, is to know Jesus, believe in Him, and obey His commands. The definition of the type of compromise we will be discussing is, “something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things.” As we dive into this oxymoron, I want us to take a look into the life of a man in the Bible who, in many ways, allowed small compromises to lead him down a painful road – Samson.
The story of Samson can be found in the book of Judges, chapters 13-16. Before we dive in, let’s gather some facts about Samson. First, he was a Nazirite (dedicated to God) from birth. Being a Nazirite, he could not allow as part of his life these things: alcohol/fermented drinks, cutting his hair, and defilement, or, coming in contact with dead bodies. Some of you may be thinking, “What the heck kind of rules are these?!” Regardless, these things were required of him. Just like in our Christian walks, once we have given our lives to Jesus, there are commands He has given us to follow.
As we dive into Samson’s life, we see that he allows small compromises that eventually catch up with him. In Judges 14:8-9, Samson and his parents are going to get him a wife but are confronted by a lion. By the Spirit of the Lord, Samson tears apart the lion with his bare hands. When he goes back to marry the girl, he sees the lion’s carcass with a swarm of bees and honey in it. Remember, Nazirites are not to come in contact with anything dead. Yet, Samson scoops out the honey with this hand and eats of it. He also gives some to his parents but does not tell them where he got it. Already we see him making compromises.
In Judges 16, we see that Samson again allows compromise in his life, this time leading to something worse. Samson was a man of great strength given to him by the Lord. He falls in love with a woman named Delilah. Now the Philistines are seeking the secret to Samson’s great strength. They ask Delilah to lure it out of him so that he can be subdued and bound, offering her money. Delilah continually asks Samson what the secret is to his strength. Eventually she pleads and nags him to the point that he was “sick to death of her nagging.” He gives in and tells her his secret and how he can be subdued. Then, Delilah has his braids shaved off when he is asleep and his strength—the Spirit of the Lord—leaves him. This final compromise leads to him being subdued by the Philistines who then gouge out his eyes, bind him, and take him to grind grain in prison. Yeah…it’s safe to say that Samson compromising information that should have been kept to himself did not benefit him at all. Thankfully we serve a compassionate God, who gave Samson a final victory over the Philistines (vs. 28-30).
In the Christian walk, compromise may not look like it did for Samson. It might be hanging out with friends that are not the best influence on you. Though you may try to be a light for Jesus, you end up engaging in the same activities that can cause harm. The effects don’t have to be physical. It may cause confusion, especially if people know you are Christians but see you engaging in activities that don’t look “Christian.” This can cause people to question the standards that Christians are called to. Maybe it’s lying, cheating, stealing, drinking, the list goes on. We know those areas of weakness in our lives. The hard truth is you can’t serve both Jesus and this world. The enemy will feed us lies that we can, but in reality we can’t.
Another lie the enemy will feed us is this idea that our actions will only affect us. Though we will be the ones directly affected by our compromising actions, other people can be affected as well. I remember when I was in high school/early college going to church. After church, I heard my friends cuss a lot. At one point, I questioned if it was okay to be a Christian and engage in things that didn’t look “Christian.” I even went as far as to believe that if other Christians were doing it, it must be okay. Eventually, I started engaging in that same type of behavior. I remember thinking that what I was saying and doing just wasn’t okay; but, I still thought that if other Christians were doing it, I could as well. Eventually God convicted me as I read His Word. The crazy thing is that I thought I could just stop, but this habit had taken root deeper than I had expected. It took a while to train my mind to not let perverse speech come out of my mouth as it says in Proverbs 4:24. It can still be a struggle at times. But, by the power of God and through prayer, I was able to gain control over my tongue.
Point being, the choices I made that caused me to feel I was compromising were brought on not just by my own flesh, but by others who were doing the same thing. I got caught up in it believing the lie that if other Christians did it, it must be okay for me as well. You never know who is watching and how your actions sway people. Just like Samson, compromise can lead to our own destruction or even the destruction of others—with or without our knowing it. It’s important that we regularly self-examine and ask God to reveal compromise in our walks with Him. It may not be easy to do, but with God’s help we can prevent making bad choices that will not only affect us, but those around us as well.