Summary: God warns against compromise in obedience.
Cockroaches and compromise
Most of you know where we live. Nearly all of the houses around us are rentals, so people come and go. Rarely do we get to know our neighbors well --except when there is a problem. Last week was one of those times. We all joined forces to do battle with a common enemy. We called on all of our resources to defeat it.
For two or three months we put up with some messy renters in a house nearby. They had cars and car parts in the yard, on the street, and even on the sidewalk. We could see stuff piled up in their house and on their porch. Their cat roamed the neighborhood and their dogs barked. We thought things couldn’t get much worse –that is, until they left. That’s when the battle intensified.
We learned that even though the landlord had evicted the renters, he failed to tell some of the residents of the house it was time to leave. Cockroaches were still living there and they began making visits elsewhere. Across the alley to the south, Tom and his renters found that their house had been invaded. The neighbors on the north began to complain about roaches on their porch and in their cars. We even saw some on our side of the street. We did all we could. Tom sprayed. We sprayed. Several of us talked to health department officials and called the code enforcement office. In desperation, Sue and I found out where the landlord lives and went to his home. We were in a battle we couldn’t afford to lose.
There are two things you can’t compromise with. One is cockroaches. You can’t say to the cockroach, “Look. As long as you stay in this corner or on your side of the line, we will tolerate you.” We all know that even one cockroach is too many. It’s a matter of all or nothing. When it comes to cockroaches, compromise is a sign of failure.
The second thing you can’t compromise with is sin. God can’t tolerate it because He is holy. Nor does He expect us to tolerate it because he has made us holy. Yet we often try to strike a compromise with sin and allow it to occupy a corner of our lives. Compromise with sin is a sign of failure.
We have been following the Israelites as they entered the promised land. Moses brought them out of Egypt. Joshua took them into the new land. Now they were ready for the next step. Their next step was to take the land that God had provided and to live in it. But, unfortunately, they failed to follow through with God’s instructions and they tried to take the easy way out. They compromised with the Canaanites and just as Moses warned them in Exodus 23:33, These people living among them “became a snare to them, enticing them to sin.” The book of Judges lets readers know why Israel did not experience the blessings God had promised.
Chapter 1 outlines what happened when they got to their new land. Remember how the Israelites as God’s people vowed publicly and strongly in Joshua 24 that yes, they would serve the Lord. And we see in the first few verses of Judges that Israel did indeed get off to a good start.
When Joshua died, the people asked the Lord for guidance about what to do next. They wanted to know who should take the lead. Verse 1 doesn’t say exactly how they did that. They likely came together in some kind of a service led by the priests where they asked for God’s guidance. That is exactly how it should be.
Twenty years or so ago, this congregation went through a discernment process about its future. The neighborhood had changed. Some members had moved away. Attendance was down. Lots of churches had moved out of the city. Should this church do the same? They gathered information. They asked the Lord what they should do. The members decided to continue the ministry of this congregation in this place. A few of you participated in that decision. And because God led you to stay instead of to leave, we are here this morning. That doesn’t mean it has always been easy. Over the years we have been here we have seen people come and go. Some left because there was no one else here like them. Some left because the challenge looked too difficult. But you stayed because you felt that God was calling you to stay. And since then others of you have come because you too want to follow God’s leading.
In Verse 2 the Lord answered that the tribe of Judah should take the lead and God gave his promise of victory. This verse reminds us again that when God commands he enables. He won’t ask you to do something you cannot do or promise you a future you cannot have. God is faithful. We could cite story after story of ways that has happened in the life of this congregation.