How do you expect people to react when you call them not to do that which is unrighteous? Do you believe that, if you offer them a reasonable explanation, most people will respect your view? Do you think that, if you compromise with them a little bit, giving into a few of their fancies, they will respect the little bit of ground that you offer them and be happy to call you their friend?
If you know much about human nature, you will learn that people get very upset whenever you declare their behavior to be wrong. Regardless of how much the world cries out for tolerance, they mean the tolerance that comes from you approving of their actions, perhaps even applauding their actions. If you will not go along with them into the very things they do or at least show that you are willing and even eager to provide them with opportunities to violate the laws of God, they will see you as an enemy. And, if you think you will gain friends by offering them a little compromise, a little approval of what you know is wrong, you are sadly mistaken. Our nature is not to receive a token gesture of tolerance as anything other than weakness, and it makes people press their advantage until all is lost.
Such patterns of evil and compromise have been present in humanity for a long time. In fact, we see it is the horrible image of the city of Sodom in Genesis 19. There, Lot, nephew of Abraham, found himself in an aggressively evil culture. Lot must have gotten along with the people for a while. But, one day, things got really bad, so bad Lot couldn’t go along with his culture.
The men of Sodom saw that Lot had house guests. The city came to Lot’s house and demanded that Lot turn those men over to them so that they could violate them. Lot, on the positive side, would not go along with this request. On the evil side, Lot wanted to give the people a compromise so that they would be satisfied. In one of the most unthinkable moments in human history, Lot offered the men of Sodom his daughters—this is evil and inexcusable.
Listen, however, to the response of the men of Sodom, as this is something that I think is telling.
Genesis 19:9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
So, when Lot disapproved of the men’s evil, and when he even offered them a compromise—all be it an evil one—the men of Sodom did not say, “Hey, thanks Lot. Now we see that you are willing to tolerate us even if you disapprove of our actions.” Instead, the men of Sodom looked at Lot’s disapproval, even with his evil offer of compromise, and they were willing to attack Lot for not going with them 100%.
Followers of God, we must understand that the world we live in is not our home. We will not ever be a delight to the world around us. No matter how much good we do and no matter how much kindness we show, the moment the standards of God we want to uphold rub up against the world’s desire to sin, they will turn on us in hatred.
And, if you think for a moment that you can win the favor of the world by making a few compromises along the way, accepting some of the sin that the world loves while trying to hold your ground on other areas, you are wrong. First, accepting and approving sin dishonors God. Second, however, the world will not see your compromise as something that makes your faith inviting. The world will simply wait until you go against them at some point, and they will hate you as much as if you had stood your ground from the beginning. All you will have done is managed to dishonor God in the process.
I’m not calling us to be harsh or aggressive. However, I would suggest that this passage reminds us that, when we live in a fallen world, that world will oppose us no matter how nice we try to be. Compromise with them will not buy us favor. Hear these words of the Lord Jesus and realize how true they are today.
John 15:18-21 – 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.