“Compromise: Only the strongest can manage it!”

“I implore Euodia and I implore Eyntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

The First Baptist Church of Kenner, Louisiana is bordered on the western side by Williams Boulevard and on the east by Clay Street.  In between, intersecting the church property is the wonderfully named Compromise Street.  I have no idea why the city planners gave it that name, but I love it.  When I pastored that church (1990-2004), I sometimes called the attention of the congregation to this asphalted reminder of how intelligent people are supposed to work with each other.

God’s people are to agree. We are to live in harmony.  We are to represent Christ in the world and do His work.  By the very nature of who we are and what we are charged to do, we are required to compromise.

God’s people are to compromise. Constantly.

Don’t miss that.

Do a little word study and you get two different meanings to the word.  Most places say simply that it’s “com” plus “promise,” and thus “pledging together.”  But we can break it down a little further.  Com does mean together.  Pro means forward, or in behalf of.  And the Miss means to send.  A promise literally is “a word sent forth of a deed which is to follow.”  Historically, when nations could not agree, they would send a few men forward to act on their behalf.  They would work together.  Hence, a compromise.

“Can two walk together,” asked the Prophet Amos, “unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3).

For years I have quoted and referred to an exchange in Marilyn vos Savant’s column in Parade magazine on this subject. Recently, to my delight, I came across the exact quote.  It’s from August 2, 1998.

Stan of Fort Worth, TX, wrote to Marilyn vos Savant.  “I do not believe in hierarchy–that the authority is always right.  I always question authority, communicate honestly and bluntly, and refuse to compromise when I believe I am right.  However, I have doubts that I will ever succeed as I want to succeed.  What is the probability that I will succeed?”

Marilyn, said by Guinness Book of World Records to have the highest IQ ever recorded, answered Stan:  “Zero.  Because you refuse to compromise when you believe you are right.  When do you compromise?  When you believe you’re wrong or not sure? That’s not compromising at all. There are plenty of times when both sides are right, and those are the times to compromise.”

If we compromise only when we believe we are in the wrong, that’s not compromise, but simply yielding to the superior position.  Compromise means giving in when I think my side is right.

Only the strongest person can submit. The weak will always insist on getting his way.

In our day and time, compromise has become a dirty word. And that’s most unfair and unfortunate. We all compromise every day of our lives, and we should.

Two drivers want the same lane.  One compromises and yields to the other.  If he doesn’t, if both drivers insist on claiming the space, nothing good comes from it.  Once a motorist has learned the pain and trouble and cost of a traffic accident, he/she learns to compromise.

Husbands and wives compromise all the time.  What movie shall we see? What shall we have for dinner tonight? Do we buy a  Camry or an Accord? Shall we allow Junior to attend that event?  The couples who cannot compromise–i.e., get together on making a decision when they disagree–is headed for a breakup.

The best definition of compromise I know is the ability to submit to another even when you believe you are correct and do so for the greater good. 

Submission is a big deal in Holy Scripture.  Ephesians 5:21 commands us to “submit to one another in the fear of God.”

Here are a few observations on the subject….

–We do not compromise on the essentials of the faith.  Scripture is inspired of God, Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, salvation is by grace through faith, and so forth.

–We compromise on lesser matters, situations where the best solution is a matter of opinion.  Which color carpet is best?  Should we vacation in the mountains or on the beach?  Which college should the daughter attend?

–To give in (submit) will appear to be weakness to some.  But they’re wrong.

–Only the strongest can submit.  The weak will insist on getting his own way.

Two motorists met in the middle of a one-lane bridge.  The first leans out his window and yells, “I never back up for fools!”  The second throws his car into reverse and says, “I always do.”

Which of the two drivers was the strongest?  The one who gave in.  But the one who got his way will not see that and will drive away thinking he won the day.  He didn’t.  He is weak.

–We submit for the greater good.  When a church is making a decision and having a tough time of it, two things can happen. Either they can learn the power of submitting to one another or they can destroy the church insisting on their own way.  Most of us have seen both scenarios.

–Somewhere–I’ve not found exactly where–Martin Luther is said to have spoken about “the left handed power of God.’  Now, right-handed power is just what it looks like: the power of the fist, do this or else, coercion, judgement.  But left-handed power is the power of love and humility, of submission and service.  The Lord Jesus exhibited this power as He was giving Himself for our sins.

Simon Peter pulled out a sword and took off the ear of one of the people arresting Jesus.  Our Lord rebuked him and said, “Didn’t you know that if I asked the Father, He would give me twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)  As the song says, “He could have called 10,000 angels, but He died alone, for you and me.”

When our Lord was on the cross, His executioners were taunting Him and the crowd was jeering at Him. “He saved others, but He can’t saved Himself!”  He was the very embodiment of weakness.  And yet, as we know, He was never stronger than when He hung on the cross, bearing the sins of humanity.

He is our example, our Role Model.  The carnal mind cannot accept this because “it is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7).  The carnal mind is not interested in being of the same mind, but in winning.  The carnal mind does not care for the greater good–the health of the Church, the winning of souls, the glory of God–but only for getting its own way.

That’s why the carnal must never be put in leadership positions in a church. Elect them and the Lord’s work will pay a severe price.







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