Is compromise good or bad? It depends on what is being compromised. Compromise can be a good thing. It may make the difference in whether or not a house sells, or a business transaction takes place. It may make the difference in getting a piece of a pie, or none of the pie. It can also be a very bad thing. We should never compromise on what God says.
Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1). At first, Pharaoh totally denied the request saying, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).
In time, Pharaoh would witness the power of the LORD in the form of plagues upon Egypt. Pharaoh would offer Moses and Aaron compromise offers. However, they would have none of it. Let’s notice –
1. “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God in the land’” (Exodus 8:25).
He is saying, in effect, “I will let you make your sacrifices to your God. But, you do not have to leave this land to do so.” He reasons, if they do not leave, then I can maintain some control of them.
Moses replies: (a) If we offer sacrifices here, then the Egyptians will want to stone us (Exodus 8:26). There would be no peace in this land (See: Sacrificing The Abomination by B.H.). (b) No, we will do what He told us to do. “We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commanded us” (Exodus 8:27).
In application, some have accepted this compromise. (a) Some try to serve God, without being a member of the church. It will not work. (b) Some worship God. But, they do so as the world suggests that they should. They compromise on the role of women in the church. The compromise on LGBTQ issues, and what constitutes a God approved marriage. They let the world dictate the terms of acceptable Christianity. (c) Some worship God. But, they never leave the world. There is peace between them and the world. This is because their lives are not clearly distinguishable from the world (cf. John 15:19).
While we live in the world, we are not to be of it (John 17:16; Romans 12:1-2). We are to be a separate people (2 Corinthians 7:14-18).
2. “So Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away” (Exodus 8:28).
He is saying, in effect, “OK, I will let you leave the land to worship, but you do not need to go so far out of the land to do it. Stay close to Egypt.” He reasons, if he can keep them near, then he can get them back.
Moses replies: “Let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (Exodus 8:29). Moses does not directly respond to the “go not far away” offer. He has already stated, “We will go three days journey into the wilderness” (Exodus 8:27). He tells Pharaoh not to be deceitful. Pharaoh had already broken his word (cf. Exodus 8:8, 15). He was about to do so again (Exodus 8:28, 32). Moses seems to sense that this is more deceitful talk.
In application, some have accepted this compromise. (a) Some are willing to serve God. But, they don’t go very far to do so. James Burton Coffman comments, “Don’t be a fanatic. Don’t go very far! This is the motto of all lukewarm, indifferent Christians” (Coffman, Exodus, pp. 103-104). (b) Some will attend if the church meets nearby. However, they will not go far to attend a sound church. Moreover, they certainly would not think of organizing a church which belongs to Christ in their community if one does not exist. (c) Some are willing to give, but not very much. After all, there are the cares, and riches, and pleasures of life (Luke 8:14). (d) Some are willing to attend on Sunday morning, but don’t ask them to do much more than this. They don’t want to go very far. They do not want to teach. They do not want to promote the Gospel meeting. The do not want to attend Bible class, Sunday evening worship, mid-week Bible study, the Gospel meeting, or anything extra, just the minimum. There is an old preachers’ joke. A congregation was searching for a preacher. They selected a man, telling him, “We like a little preaching, and you are as close to a little preaching as we were able to find.”
Full devotion is needed. We are to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). We are to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). We are to love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).
3. “So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go, serve the LORD your God. Who are the ones that are going?’” (Exodus 10:8).
It is not apparent to this point why Pharaoh asks this question. Let’s read on.
Moses answers, “We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD” (Exodus 10:9).
Pharaoh replies, “The LORD had better be with you, when I let your little ones go! Beware for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD for that is what you desired” (Exodus 10:10-11).
Pharaoh is saying in effect, “The men can go worship. However, they cannot take their families. I am warning you, if you leave with the children, then there will be trouble.” He knows that if he keeps the children in Egypt, then the fathers will return to Egypt.
In application, some have accepted this compromise. (a) Some are willing to serve God alone. They do not try to take others with them: family, friends, neighbors, fellow students or co-workers. James Burton Coffman comments, “If you must be a Christian, do not attempt to take others with you. Keep your religion to yourself!” (ibid). When it come to your children, do not “train up a child in the way he should go.” Let him seek his own path, and direct his own steps. (b) Some are willing to worship, and even attend Bible class, but are content to leave their children at home. After all, they are only young once. There are sports, and other extra-curricular activities. There is school work to do. There are birthday parties and sleep-overs.
However, the Bible teaches that we have a responsibility. We are to bring our children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). The soul winner is wise (Proverbs 11:30; Daniel 12:3). James wrote, “he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
Church attendance can leave valuable lessons in the mind of our children. A well-known Gospel preacher, Robert Taylor Jr., has written, “I heard great preaching as I grew up. I am glad I got to attend area gospel meetings as a boy and that I was not placed with a baby sitter when our family went far and near to such. I well remember the very first time I heard N.B. Hardeman. It was at Trenton, Tennessee… I well remember the first time I heard Guy N. Woods preach. His sermon was, ‘Where are the Dead?’ it was delivered at a meeting in Humbolt, Tennessee. I still preach sermons from notes I took while yet a youngster” (Robert Taylor Jr., The Bible Doctrine of Christian Fellowship, p. 84).
4. “Then, Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you” (Exodus 10:24).
He is saying, in effect, “OK, the children can go, but not your possessions.” He knows that if they would agree to leave their material interests in Egypt, then they very likely would return.
Moses replies, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the LORD our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there” (Exodus 10:25-26).
In application, some have accepted this compromise. (a) Some worship God, but do not surrender all to Him. James Burton Coffman comments, “If you must be a Christian, go ahead; but don’t invest any money in it. Use your wealth for yourself. Of this class of Christians are these whose pocketbooks were never baptized!” (ibid). They live in expensive homes, drive expensive automobiles, have expensive toys, and take expensive vacations, but give little to support the Lord’s church. (b) Some compartmentalize their lives. Christianity is Christianity. Business is business. The two shall never meet. I am a Christian on Sunday. I am a business man (or woman) the rest of the week, and my Christianity does not affect how I do business.
A true Christian is a Christian always, not just on Sundays. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:27). Christianity is to be lived on a daily basis (e.g. Hebrews 3:12-13; 2 Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 5:1; James 2:15-16; 4:13-17).
What motivates us to give? (a) Remember that all things belong to Him (cf. Psalms 24:1). (b) Remember what Christ did for us (2 Corinthians 8:8-9). (c) The key to liberal giving is to first give ourselves to the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5).