For many people, there is a strong desire for compromise. We all find ourselves in situations where we do not see eye to eye with others around us. In many of these instances, the other people involved are people with whom we want to have some kind of relationship. Compromise is the way to bring this about.
All of us have been told the importance of compromise. Most of us who are married were told that one of the secrets to a long marriage is the willingness to compromise.
There is also the fact that people who are not willing to compromise are often seen as being hard headed. They are described as being “difficult” or “unbending.” This is seen as a bad thing.
In addition, the Bible encourages compromise. There are passages that say Christians should not judge other believers in areas like what food they eat. If we are in a church where some eat certain foods and others don’t, all should accept the views of the other side. In the book of James, James speaks about all the fighting going on among his Christian readers. He calls for humility and says they should seek to be at peace with one another (James 3:18). Certainly, such peace can only come about by people willing to compromise.
As a general rule none of us want to be accused of not wanting peace. There is a strong tendency among Christian people to seek peace and compromise. There are practical reasons for doing so. Lack of compromise can lead to churches splitting. We can reason that such things will hurt the cause of Christ and the ability to have an influence on the communities in which we live.
However, there is a danger here. There are some areas in which we should not compromise. In Galatians 2, Paul discusses such an area. He is talking about the Gospel. In Galatians, the word “gospel” covers more than how a person receives eternal life. It also includes how a Christian lives a godly life. When it comes to this “good news” Paul says it is by grace through faith.
But there were those who disagreed with Paul. They were often called Judaizers. They felt that the Law of Moses was the key to the good news. In their view, Gentiles had to keep the Law in order either to receive eternal life or to live a life that pleased God. This was an important issue for Paul because he was the Apostle Christ had called to take the good news to these Gentiles.
How easy it would have been for Paul to compromise. He could have said that maybe he should tone down the message he preached. He could have told the Gentiles who had believed that they should get circumcised in order to get along with those who said the Law was so important.
Paul could also have envisioned a future of the Church in which Gentile Christians lived one way, and Jewish Christians lived another way. The Jewish Christians could live in Israel and preach the necessity of the Law. Gentile Christians could live outside Israel and live another way. Or, Paul could have said this was not that big a deal and there should be a compromise worked out in some other say.
However, he said this concerning the Judaizers: “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” When it came to the good news, Paul did not budge an inch. He understood that as soon as we add things to grace, it is no longer grace. There is only one good news. A compromise of the truth only leads to a false gospel and bondage.
There are many today who change the message of grace. We are told that in order to have eternal life we have to be baptized or turn from our sins. Others tell us that if we don’t have works we will lose our salvation. Many say that we can have no assurance of our eternal life until we stand before the Lord.
All of these things change the good news of grace. Paul says such changes results in bondage. That’s what compromise will do. Paul would have nothing to do with that. Sometimes compromise is a bad thing.