Let’s Rethink What It Means To Compromise

 “Compromise” is a dirty word. It’s not the kind of dirty word like cusswords or slurs; it’s dirty in the sense that it makes us feel dirty. The sense that compromise leaves is one of dissatisfaction, of things not getting worked out as well as we would have hoped. We gave up something we cared about and got less in return than we would have liked. In short, compromise feels like losing (especially to those of use who are competitive). Even if compromise is necessary, it feels, at best, like a necessary evil.

But what if we were to take the word “compromise” and replace it with “sacrifice”? Isn’t that really the best sense of the word – to lay down, voluntarily, something that matters to us even if the return isn’t great. Sacrifice is a noble thing and shows care for others. It is thinking of a good greater than my own. Compromise feels gross because we walk away feeling shorted, like we didn’t get all we wanted out of the deal whereas sacrifice is a good, if difficult, action to bring about a better end. And that is fulfilling.

Of course not all compromises are bad. And, yes, some things we hold dear cannot be sacrificed. We must never give up or waffle on the essentials of faith and the commitment to Christ. But could we be willing to sacrifice in how we communicate them? Could we forgo aggression or argumentation for civil discourse or personal conversations? And we must be willing to sacrifice when it comes to the peripherals and preferences whether it’s church musical style or political affiliation. Sacrificing in these cases doesn’t mean abandoning permanently or disavowing; it means laying down those things that matter to us for the love of other. If, in a given context, we willingly relinquish a preference or desire for the sake of restoring or reviving a relationship that is noble, not weak. It is no loss to willingly give something up for the good of a relationship or the good of another person.

We know this because of Jesus’ life. He was a man who did not compromise, not in the sense that makes use feel like we need a shower. He didn’t give a little to gain a little like the compromises we so often encounter. Instead He sacrificed. He never “lost” even when he gave up things that were valuable (like his place at the right of God and then His life). And He did it all for the greatest good, without ever letting go of the essential aspect of His life and mission to glorify God by saving the world.

You and I aren’t perfect. We won’t walk perfectly in Jesus’ steps, and that means conflicts will happen. That’s when mutual sacrifice — a more accurate and uplifting phrase than compromise — matters most. Instead of giving more than we want to gain less than we hoped for, we end up giving what we can to gain what the other person needs most. And in this new version of compromise we reflect the character of Jesus instead of the dissatisfaction of compromise as we now know it.

photo credit: Pulpolux !!! via photopin cc

I Can’t Forgive Myself

Have you ever heard anyone say that?  Occasionally I hear believers say they know that God forgives them but they can’t forgive themselves.  What’s going on when we say we can’t forgive ourselves?

First, it reveals a lack of understanding or appreciation of the gospel.

We’re saying that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough.  Oh, the cross was enough to satisfy God and purchase his forgiveness, but it wasn’t enough to merit our own forgiveness.  It suggests that we have a higher standard than God himself. We are saying we expect more of ourselves than God does.  Of course no believer would consciously say they have a higher standard than God but that is what’s implied.

Next, it reveals a lack of understanding of the depth of our own sinfulness.

If we can’t forgive ourselves it means that we think we should be better than to fall into sin.  We actually think we’re pretty good and shouldn’t fail like that.  It’s a subtle form of pride.

Actually, we’re all much worse than we think we are.

That’s helpful for me to remember.  No matter how bad I think I am, I’m worse.  I sin in ways I don’t even realize.  I fail to please God in a thousand ways I don’t know about.  The sins I become aware of are only the tip of the iceberg.

This doesn’t depress me though.  Getting a glimpse of my sinfulness makes the love of God displayed on the cross even more amazing.

God, the Holy One of the universe, the one who is infinitely holier than we can even imagine, forgives every single one of our wicked, foul sins when we turn to Jesus because of the amazing, incredible, powerful redemption accomplished on the cross. He saves those who are worse than they even know.

When we sin, rather than berating ourselves because we failed again, rather than saying I can’t believe I could do such a thing or fail again, we should first be humbled, that God in his kindness would allow us to see once again our need for a Savior.  We should yet again come boldly to the throne of grace for mercy and help in time of need.  And we should praise our Father for the incredible provision of his Son to cover all our sins and his astounding patience and forbearance with us.

So rejoice!  You’re worse than you thought you were.

But there’s a Savior who’s greater than we know.

photo by fakelvis

Preach A Bleeding Christ

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It’s not enough to preach God, or even Christ. We must preach a bleeding Christ.

“Christ did not redeem and save poor souls by sitting in majesty on his heavenly throne, but by hanging on the shameful cross, under the tormenting hand of man’s fury and God’s just wrath. And therefore, the poor soul that would have pardon of sin, is directed to place its faith not only on Christ, but on a bleeding Christ, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25). — William Gurnall

Christ is more than a teacher or an example of unselfishness to imitate. He is the sacrifice God provided to take away the sins of the world. He poured out his life blood to atone for our rebellion, and it is only Christ’s blood that can wash away sins and cleanse the guilty conscience.  Preach Christ crucified.

Preach a bleeding Christ.

photo by jurek d.

How Our Mercies Are Conveyed

“[See] the way and method in which your mercies are conveyed to you.  They all flow to you through the blood of Christ and the covenant of grace.”  — John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence

And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (MK 14.24).  The covenant sealed by Christ’s blood is the “everlasting covenant,” promised by God that he “will not turn away from doing good” to his children (JE 32.40).  In other words, Jesus’ blood purchased all the good that God does to us, from justification to sanctification to glorification, and every blessing in between from our first cup of dark roast Sumatra in the morning to the gift of sleep at night.

Think about it, we should be in hell right now, but instead we enjoy every good gift that comes down from the Father of lights.  Instead of eternal wrath, we get to enjoy Christ through his Word, worship, prayer and fellowship.  Instead of eternal despair and horror, we get to enjoy Packer and Piper, pulled pork and pumpkin pie, toddlers and teens, rafting and Riverdance, painting and pets.  Well, maybe not pets.

Immeasurable mercies flow to us through the blood of Christ and the covenant of grace.

Today as we enjoy the blessings God heaps upon our heads, let’s praise him for the blood and the covenant.  Tonight before dinner, let’s pray, “Father, we should be in hell right now, but instead we’re about to enjoy all this delicious food.  Thank you for your covenant to be gracious, guaranteed by the blood of Jesus!   Praise you for your love!”

photo by pareeerica

Scraps of Worship

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If you could use one word to describe your current devotional life, what would it be? Mine would be “scraps”. So often I feel like all I can muster is a distracted scrap of devotion to God. For example, here’s what my Bible reading time often looks like:

Step 1: Open Bible. Pray that God would meet me as I read his word.

Step 2: Read diligently for thirty seconds, taking in at least three full sentences.

Step 3: Begin wondering if I’ll ever receive my tax refund, because it sure would come in handy right now.

Step 4: Feel guilty for being distracted. Try to “come back” into the presence of God (whatever that means).

Step 5: Repeat steps one and two plus additional prayer of repentance for being distracted.

Step 6: Begin thinking about my next killer blog post that will rock the blogosphere.

Step 7: Repeat steps 1, 4, and 5.

You get the point. It’s a constant battle against my sinful nature, which will seize on the slightest distraction. Many times I feel guilty instead of refreshed after doing my devotions. I feel like I didn’t pray enough, or with enough passion, or for enough people. And I certainly didn’t have enough love for God. My feeble scraps of devotion to God are pathetic, with a capital “pathetic”.

But God has been teaching me about devotional scraps lately. My devotion (probably too strong of a word) to God is nothing more than scraps, but God accepts, and even delights in those scraps. And when I get distracted, I don’t have to work my way back into God’s presence. I can come right back to God and experience full acceptance. Why? Because Jesus Christ is holding the door open. Always.
God’s love for me has nothing to do with my devotion and everything to do with Christ’s perfect devotion. Jesus was passionately devoted to God. He didn’t offer any scraps, he offered perfect obedience and love. And then his life ended. Abruptly. Brutally.

Now his righteousness is mine, and he perfects my feeble scraps of devotion and presents them to God. God loves Jesus, which means God loves me, end of story. The door to God is held open by the cross.

So yes, my worship is nothing more than scraps. But to God, they’re delightful scraps, made perfect by his son. How freeing this truth is. Today let’s throw aside any hope we have in our scraps of devotion and place all our hope in Christ. True devotion to God starts at the cross.

Can you relate to my feeling of devotional scraps?

+photo by Payton Chung