Summary: Don’t compromise in your commitment to the Lord, and don’t compromise with the godless culture that surrounds us, lest you be consumed by it.

There is an old Russian parable about a hunter who came to a clearing and encountered a bear. The hunter raised his rifle to shoot when the bear said, “Wait, what do you want?”

The hunter replied, “A fur coat.”

“That’s reasonable,” answered the bear. “I want a full stomach. Let’s sit down and talk about it.”

So they sat down and after a while, the bear walked away all by himself. He had his full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat. (Christianity Today, April 13, 1973)

Compromise isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes, it can be very dangerous and destructive. & That is especially true when it comes to spiritual matters.

If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 33, Genesis 33, where we learn with Jacob just how dangerous compromise can be.

Genesis 33:18-19 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. (NIV)

God called Jacob back to Bethel (Genesis 31:13), but Jacob stops about a day’s journey short in Shechem. You see, Shechem was at the crossroads of trade, while Bethel was in the middle of the wilderness. Shechem offered material prosperity and greater comfort; and besides, it was close to where God wanted Jacob. It was a nice compromise, and Jacob could still worship God at Shechem just as well as he could at Bethel – or so he thought.

Genesis 33:20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel (NIV) – which means “God, the God of Israel.”

Jacob stops short in his obedience to God, but he thinks building an altar is going to make up for it. Jacob has compromised in his commitment to God. He is trying to serve both God and money, thinking that his prayers and spiritual activity can compensate for his lack of full obedience.

And sometimes we do the same thing. We try to ride the fence between God and the world, thinking our prayers and piety will cover our disobedience. But that will never work. Jesus Himself said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

In his book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the News, Bernard Goldberg recounts a pivotal moment in television news. In the early 1970s, CBS president Dick Salant told staffers, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, for the first time in history, CBS News made money last quarter. The bad news is, for the first time in history, CBS News made money last quarter.”

Goldberg writes, “Salant knew, everyone knew. If news could actually make money, the suits who ran the networks would expect just that. Sure, they would want quality in theory. But they wanted ratings and money in fact.”

In the words of Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes, “Before they would say, ‘Make us proud.’ Now they tell us, ‘Make us money.’” (Bernard Goldberg, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the News, Perennial, 2002, p. 90;

A reporter cannot be faithful to the truth and faithful to making money at the same time. He has to choose which master he will serve, and so must we.

We cannot be faithful to the One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ, and faithful to pursuing this world’s pleasures at the same time. We have to choose which master we will serve. Either we commit ourselves fully to Jesus Christ, or we commit ourselves fully to making money. Either we choose to obey the Lord completely, or we choose to enjoy the pleasures of this world.

Please, don’t try to do both, because just like the hunter and the bear, we end up being consumed by sin, and it only puts us under a lot of stress in the meantime.

Ron Hutchcraft, in an article entitled Living Peacefully in a Stressful World, describes a visit to Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina:

As the tour boat approached Fort Sumter, he wondered whether the guides would be dressed in blue or in gray. Sumter had been a Union fort in Confederate territory when the Civil War began, and it had changed hands several times.

Well, they were greeted at the gate by a “soldier” wearing a blue coat and gray pants! Hutchcraft says, “This uniform would not have worked very well back in 1861. It would have gotten its wearer shot on both ends!”

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