Our family has a board game called Tri-Bond to help develop thinking skills. It provides you with three words or phrases, and you have to figure out what the three all have in common. For example, "forest, kelly, olive." They are all shades of green. Or, "Moe, Larry, Curly." They are all Stooges. (I know, that one was too easy.)
Now let's play Quad-Bond. Deuteronomy 22:9-12 lists four commandments: 1) Not to sow your vineyard with different seeds; 2) Not to plow with an ox and an ass together; 3) Not to wear a garment of sha'atnetz (linen and wool woven together); 4) Make fringes on the four corners of your garment.
What do these four commandments all have in common? Answer: They all involve the principle of separation--separation of seeds, separation of kosher and unkosher animals, separation of wool and linen, and separation of Yahweh's people from worldlings who follow their own heart instead of God's commandments.
This principle of separation is not so evident in the commandment to wear fringes as it is recorded in Deuteronomy 22, but the principle is clearly seen in the commandments as it is recorded in Numbers 15:38-41. In Numbers 15 the purpose of the fringe is clearly stated: "And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Yahweh, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a-whoring: That ye may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy [i.e., separated] unto your God. I am Yahweh your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am Yahweh your God."
If you are redeemed, you are called to be holy, i.e., separate and set apart from the unredeemed. This separation is not geographical, for we are commanded to be sons of God "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" (Ph'p. 2:15).
Our separation is not geographical. The things that are to set us apart from the unredeemed worldlings are things like our thought patterns, our world view, our priorities, our behavior, and our lifestyle. The Lord expects us to think and live differently than the rest of the world, because the world is crooked and perverse.
Most people don't want to be regarded as weird, eccentric oddballs. If a person wants to be considered that way, he probably is a weird, eccentric oddball. Normal people don't want to be considered weird. But if you live the way God wants you to live, you will automatically be different and peculiar in the eyes of the world. You may suffer some ridicule, mockery, scorn, and ostracism. Merely keeping the Sabbath will automatically exclude you from a lot of activities, because we live in a culture that does not honor God's Sabbath.
If you are redeemed, you are called to be holy, separate, set apart, different, peculiar. If you are faithful to your call, your peculiarity will bring some measure of persecution. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Messiah Yeshua shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12). Notice that word "all." If you never experience any persecution for your faith, not even a little scorn or ridicule or ostracism, you are probably not living a very godly life. You are probably not peculiar enough. If your peculiarity never brings any persecution or suffering, it is probably because you have compromised.
Compromising one's faith for the sake of enjoying sinful pleasures is generally frowned upon by all sincere believers. It is not so difficult to overcome temptations to compromise when the purpose of the compromise is the enjoyment of sin. The more difficult test is when we are tempted to compromise in order to avoid persecution or ridicule.
When a man is tempted to compromise in order to avoid persecution or ridicule, it's so easy to make excuses to justify the compromise. "I don't want to flaunt my personal beliefs," he tells himself. So like everyone else, he laughs at the filthy jokes that his co-worker tells.
A woman tells herself, "I don't want to appear old-fashioned or prudish." So she dresses immodestly at work, and wears her modesty costume only at church.
The Biblical pattern for dealing with the temptation to compromise is to nip it in the bud before it can even get started. Consider Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. These four young men were among the Jewish captives brought to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were chosen, along with other bright young Jews, to be educated and trained to serve in the king's palace. King Nebuchadnezzar provided for them "a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank." They were to be fed from the king's table for three years. What a privilege!
There was only one problem. The king's meat and wine were not kosher, either because it came from unclean animals, or because it had been offered to idols, or both.
Daniel could have come up with lots of legitimate-sounding excuses to justify eating the king's meat. "We've already suffered enough. We've been separated from our families and our homeland and taken into exile. We deserve a break from all this suffering. If we refuse the food and wine, it will probably just get us into more trouble. And the king is honoring us with all these special privileges; in his mind he's doing us a big favor. To refuse his generosity would offend him. That might be a bad testimony. As a favor to the king, maybe we should just go ahead and eat it. After all, it's just food. And no one else is refusing to eat it. Why should we be the oddballs? When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians. To the Babylonians I became as a Babylonian, that I might gain the Babylonians."
Daniel could have determined in his heart to go ahead and eat the king's food. "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank."
Daniel spoke to Melzar, the man who was in charge of Daniel and his friends. Daniel requested that he and his friends be excused from eating the king's food. Melzar replied that he might lose his head if Daniel and his friends didn't look as healthy as all the other young men. Daniel asked Melzar to just let them have "pulse to eat, and water to drink" for ten days, and see how they looked after ten days. "And at the end of the ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
Daniel's example is the Biblical model for dealing with temptations to compromise. Daniel shows us how to maintain holiness, separation, and integrity in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation that does not honor God's commandments. At the very outset, Daniel nipped it in the bud. As soon as he saw that there was going to be a conflict between his faith and the world's expectations of him, he immediately determined to do something about it. He respectfully and graciously made an appeal to Melzar. Even after Melzar initially expressed great reluctance to accommodate Daniel's request, Daniel didn't give up. He respectfully pressed Melzar to at least give it a ten-day trial, knowing that the Lord would give favorable results.
This is the Biblical model we should follow when we are tempted to compromise. Furthermore, we should follow this model immediately and without hesitation. What do you suppose Melzar would have said if Daniel had eaten the king's food a few times before speaking up? Melzar probably would have said, "But you've been eating it until now. Why is it all of a sudden important to you now? It wasn't a problem these past few days."
If you compromise one time, it makes it more difficult to take a stand and make your case. It's easier to speak up at the very outset. Graciously and respectfully explain why you cannot meet their expectations. Some people may be offended, but most decent people will actually respect you and do what they can to accommodate you.
Refusing to compromise may cause you to lose a job, an income, or friends. But if that is what it takes to maintain your integrity and your separation from this crooked and perverse world, it is worth it.
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Image (Above): Psalm 9 an original painting by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms collection. Visit his Art Gallery at DanielBotkin.com today!