The Bible often has a lot to say about compromise, and not all of it is what you'd expect. Many times we're told that all compromise is bad, but is it? Are there times when compromise works? Well, how we approach spiritual compromise in our lives may have to do a lot with the context of situations we are in...
Compromise and Doing What God Expects
How we approach compromise in our spiritual lives means taking a closer look at God's laws. If we approach the dictates in the Bible as being both practical and spiritual, then we look at spiritual compromise with a different viewpoint. When we compromise our values to fit in or to avoid conflict, we are often avoiding what God expects of us. As Christians, we are asked to put God first, and spiritual compromise is often putting God second to avoiding conflict.
We also need to remember that God gives us gifts with the expectation that we will use him for His Glory. When we compromise ourselves spiritually we are not using our spiritual gifts to the fullest. Sometimes it means squandering those gifts. It can be hard, as doing the right thing spiritually often is, but we have to work on keeping God first. It's important to take that work one day and one situation at a time.
You Can Do the Right Thing…In the Wrong Way
While we don't want to compromise ourselves spiritually, we need to also not turn people off to Christianity by being too rigid. Yes, this means we walk quite the tightrope of not compromising ourselves spiritually while not totally offending those around us. Yet there are times when compromise does not contradict the Word of God. In Acts 21:18-26, Paul exemplifies compromise without going against the Word.
Sometimes we just need to be sensitive to others, even if what we believe does not exactly go along with what they consider to be right. Tact goes a long way in giving people a good impression. Being kind in your words is not compromising your values. Sensitivity means understanding the other person's position, but agreeing to disagree.
When Not Compromising Means Bad Things
So what can happen when you don't compromise your values to fit it? Some of what you fear can actually happen. You may lose friends who don't understand your values. You may be made fun of for being the "Christian" in the room. Anyone who says that holding to your values is always easy lives in an ideal utopia, because often people don't understand why Christians make the decisions they do. It can be discouraging, and it can also lead to temptation to give into compromise (1 Corinthians 10:12).
However, always think of how that compromise will feel in the end. Judas compromised and ended up filled with regret (2 Corinthians 6:14, Matthew 27:3-5). Too often we idealize holding onto our values, making it seem like all is better when we don't compromise. Yet the Bible doesn't tell us that the world is all rainbows and butterflies when you don't compromise. It reminds us that living by your values is hard sometimes. Yet in the end a life without regret is much lighter than one heavy with compromise.
Know When You're Prone to Spiritual Compromise
The best way to avoid spiritual compromise is to know when you're most prone to it. Are you easily swayed by peer pressure? Maybe it's time to look closely at your choices in friends (2 Corinthians 6:14). Are you afraid of conflict? Maybe you need to practice standing up for your values in small ways. It can be far easier in the moment to compromise and avoid confrontation. It's easy to say that we'll change our behavior tomorrow and do what we want today. Temptations to compromise can be strong, so we need to build up our resistance.