We recently had a very cold, wintry storm that dumped about a foot of snow. Then within a couple days the temperatures rose and it began raining. As a result, we have water everywhere, including in a lot of people’s basements! The streams too are very high and muddy. One of our favorite walks takes us up over the Kootenai River across a bridge that used to be the route for logging trucks coming into the mill. Upstream about half a mile from the bridge, Libby Creek, which is high and muddy right now, dumps into the Kootenai. Up to the entrance of Libby Creek, the waters of the Kootenai are clear and clean. For several hundred yards past the place where Libby Creek enters, one side of the Kootenai is clear and the other– the contribution of Libby Creek–is muddy, creating a very distinct line. But then, the muddy waters start to co-mingle with the clear waters and by the time the Kootenai reaches the town of Libby, another half-mile downstream from the haul bridge, the whole river is muddy.
As I watched the two bodies of water join together and the Kootenai becoming dirty with the waters from Libby Creek, I couldn’t help but compare that to our Christian lives and how we too get muddied up with the dirty waters of the world system . That has been the tendency of believers from the entrance of sin into the world. I think of how Lot, when he separated from Abraham, his godly uncle, chose to settle in the lush valley of the Jordan, “pitching his tents as far Sodom” (Gen. 13:10-12). The narrative then makes comment about Sodom, saying, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD” (v. 13).
So, did Lot, the believer, have a positive influence on the wicked city of Sodom and its neighboring city, Gomorrah? Not so much! When two angels and the pre-incarnate Christ came to visit Abraham to tell of the coming judgment against those cities because of their wickedness, Abraham interceded for them, knowing Lot lived there; but not even ten righteous could be found in Sodom, so the city had to be destroyed (Gen. 18:32). When the two angels came to Sodom, they found Lot sitting in the gate of the city which was the center of public activity and indicates that Lot was now a judge in the city (19:1). He had gone from pitching his tent toward Sodom to being an official in town–yet there weren’t even ten righteous people in the community. Quite obviously, the city had been the influence, not Lot. He had compromised his convictions to become part of the system.
When Israel entered the Promised Land, they were to destroy the pagans who dwelled there lest they end up worshiping their false gods. Well, they didn’t do a complete job, and ended up doing just what they had been warned against–being influenced to worship false gods and having constant conflicts with groups such as the Philistines. They were to be the display nation to show others the true Jehovah God of Israel, but instead, they ended up worshiping idols and false gods.
The kings of Israel were told not to “multiply wives,” or take foreign wives and end up compromising and serving the gods of other nations. Yet Solomon, took some 300 wives (plus 700 concubines) and it destroyed his walk with God. Compromise always takes us down the wrong path; it “muddies” the waters of our walk with the Lord and it ruins our testimony for Christ.
In the New Testament, Paul gave a warning to the Corinthian believers (and to us), saying, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial (Satan), or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean'” (II Cor. 6:14-17). When it comes to our Christian beliefs and corresponding values and principles, we are to be uncompromising. As has been said, we are to be “in the world, but not of the world.” We are not to be isolated from the world but are to be insulated from the world.
Yesterday at church we heard a powerful example of this principle of being “uncompromising.” We had missionaries, Don and Janie Nellis, who have served with both Wycliffe and United Indian Mission in Mexico. They related the story of a young man, Geraldo, in a small Mexican village, who had been born with a club foot.The foot became infected and the missionaries offered to take Geraldo to Mexico City where his foot had to be amputated. While in the hospital, Geraldo read the New Testament that the missionaries had given him. As a result he gave his heart to the Lord. When he went back home to his village he became a translator for the Nellises. One day as they were working on the book of II Corinthians, Geraldo told Don that he couldn’t translate II Cor. 6:14-17. He understood what it meant, and he was currently dating an unsaved girl, and wouldn’t translate a passage he knew he was disobeying. So, he said he would have to quit. Well, he came back a few days later, and said, “Okay, I’m ready to translate that passage.” He had broken off his relationship with the girl. He and the Nellises prayed for a Christian mate for him. At that time there were no Christian women in their little community. But one day, a lady and her beautiful daughter moved to their village and soon got saved. He ended up marrying the daughter and today the couple is working with United Indian Mission! God honored Geraldo’s willingness to obey His Word, even if it meant to remain single.
It is so easy to allow the values and morals of the world to become ours. Rather than to stand up for our convictions, though it may involve sacrifice, or mean persecution to some degree, we tend to cave in and end up losing the joy of the Lord, and ruining our testimony for Him. We are to be the influence, not to let the world influence us. Compromise never lifts the fallen but lowers the upright. Dare to be like Daniel and his three Hebrew friends who did not compromise their convictions and risked their lives in doing so, as they lived in the very pagan Babylonian culture under King Nebuchadnezzar.