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Strange Bedfellows! (11.14.05--Christian Soldiers!--Exodus 8:25-29)

Many years ago I was an avid smoker. I smoked a pipe, cigarettes and cigars. Anything that had nicotine in it, I was putting a match to. Then I decided to quit. I threw away the cigarettes and cigars and put my pipes in their stands. Closing the humidor, I vowed never to “touch the stuff again.” I was committed to being a non-smoker.

But, in the back of my mind, I had made a compromise. I would keep my pipes right where they had always been, on the corner of my office desk. I would not empty the humidor. Somehow, like all addicts, I felt more comfortable knowing that there was always tobacco available if I really “needed” it. Compromise in place, I walked along a bumpy road of being “off” and “on” the wagon for a number of months. Finally, one day, I made the effort to eliminate the compromise I had quietly made with myself. I packed up the pipes, emptied the humidor, and packed them away in the attic. If I was really committed to quitting, I needed to eliminate the one small compromise that stood between me and my goal.

Dale Hays writes: “On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.” (Dale A. Hays, Leadership, Vol. X, No. 3 (Summer, 1989), p. 35.)

When we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation. Commitment and compromise make strange bedfellows. There are certain things in this life, and certainly in our eternal life, that can’t be negotiated. If you are going to quit something or start something, committing to the hard work and sacrifice are essential. But, nothing is more essential than eliminating all the small compromises that each of us is inclined to make in order to make the passage to change more palatable. Certainly this is no more true than in our commitment to Christ. He wants all of us without compromise or negotiation. That means our time, talents and treasures. It may be comfortable to leave the door open just a little bit to our “old man.” But, give the devil a toe in the door, and he will most certainly push his way in altogether. There is no place for compromise in a committed life.

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