Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Compromising Standards: To Remain Steadfast or to Buckle

At times I just don’t know what to do. Confused by a range of both known and unknown stimuli, perhaps an overly burdened mind, indecision reigns—but not for as long as it used to. Indecision, a key stressor, is just one reason why we might find ourselves compromising... our authority; our reason; our standards; and finally, what’s best for all.

Let’s look at a particularly sharp example of biblical compromise:

[Jeremiah] is in your hands,” King Zedekiah answered. “The king can do nothing to oppose you [in placing Jeremiah into the cistern].”

–Jeremiah 38:5 (NIV).

[After Jeremiah was placed in the cistern, and at the urging of Eded-Melech] the king commanded... “Take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

–Jeremiah 38:10 (NIV).

What we see here is an apparent backflip from a characteristically morally-weak, though God-believing, king—one fearful of the imminent Babylonians. He bowed to the whims of one party and then bowed to the other, like a sunflower follows the sun, dependent on its rays of goodness. Of course, Jeremiah was unjustly put in the cistern to begin with, but that’s beside the point here.

People who continually compromise their standards, bowing each and every way, will tend to have the same level of success as this king; they’ll not get what they want, for they don’t know what they want.

And worse, they can receive exactly what they don’t want—which is any result, simply because anything they receive (good or bad) will be seasoned unexpectedly. It’s a neutral outcome at best, a negative one at worst.

James has some great advice about wisdom. The unfortunate thing about indecision is it often leads us to wisdom’s rank opposite, folly.

Let’s hear the word from James:

“But when you ask [God, for wisdom], be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

–James 1:6-8 (NLT).

I’ve long thought there are three “comp” words that I need to gradually, though comprehensively, eliminate from my character. These are to not complain, not compare myself with others, and not compromise on many certain standards.

And it’s this latter one that underpins the former two in many underhanded, covert ways—as certain things slip under our radar of conscious guard. But, all three of these “comp” words lead us to folly.

No one lives this life to continually miss out on what they desire. We take our time to decide, by all means, yet we decide—and do not continually waver. We can change our minds—in the prudence of wisdom—sure, but we do not continually waver.

And we do not weaken to the overweening pressure of others, unless it is good for all.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

DISCLAIMER: The sense of relational compromise is not the subject above. Relational compromise is virtuous and should be practiced. The subject discussed above is really about self-compromise, and the compromise of wisdom.

No comments: