Solomon, the first of David’s sons to honor God with his life, was wise. He was wise even before he was wise in the world’s eyes. He was wise enough to ask God for wisdom instead of trivial things like wealth and a long life, and because he was wise in that, God gave him all of it: wisdom and wealth, and the promise of a long life if he followed God’s statutes. Solomon desired wisdom so that he could rule the Israelites judiciously, and that he did. But it seems that his wisdom didn’t always follow him out of the throne room door into his personal life.
The first thing Solomon did as King was form an alliance with Egypt by marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter. Superficially, this seemed like a good idea. He secured trade routes through Egypt to enhance the wealth of his kingdom and he secured peace for his people. Wise move, right? What he failed to secure was the heart of his wife, which led Solomon into a life of compromise. Instead of being firm in his commitment to God, Solomon allowed himself to be seductively drawn to the altars of other Gods. Three hundred royal wives later, Solomon was worshipping at the altar of Baal one day, the altar of Molech the next. Ashtoreth and Chemosh were receiving God’s glory, and God, who had given him everything in life he would ever need or could ever ask for, was forsaken. For all of Solomon’s wisdom, he ended up a fool, all for the sake of compromise. By the end of his reign, his kingdom was divided. He had ruined his father’s legacy and become a shame to his people.
I wonder what would have happened if Solomon would have refused to be the popular guy and instead stood for what he knew was right. Sure, there would have been people who called him a dictator if he didn’t allow idol worship in the land, but his decision would have kept the Israelites from captivity and death and starvation. Instead, he led them into it with his lax attitude toward sin that God had expressly warned them about over and over and over.
As a parent, I know what it’s like to be the killjoy. I know what it’s like to enforce rules that are unpopular and I know what it’s like to get the evil-eye for disciplining bad behaviors. Should I let those things get in the way of doing what God has told me to do as a parent? Would that be doing my kids any good? Sometimes, I feel like a dictator in my own home because not only do I expect them to act in a certain way, I refuse to let them watch certain TV programs, listen to certain music, play certain games, hang with certain people, and say certain things. Their disobedience brings on consequences that I don’t necessarily like enforcing but I want my kids to grow up knowing how to honor and respect God and others. Therefore, I do these things. Uncompromisingly.
But this topic of compromise is so much bigger than my choices as a parent. The desire to not compromise permeates every part of my life, and here’s why: the concept of compromise sounds good in theory. Two parties agree to disagree, both sides give up something to come to some sort of conclusion that ensures no one is either a winner or a loser. Everyone gets something out of the deal while no one gets everything. Sounds good, right? But the problem is, while it sounds good in theory, it doesn’t work like that in practice. In real life, there is always a winner and a loser, even when it comes to compromise. The winner is the guy who pulls the wool over your eyes and robs you blind while you try to be the nice guy. Then he scoffs at your ignorance and lords his victory over you. This is compromise in reality. You get taken. You give up way more than you bargained in the beginning, and your ruthless opponent gives up as little as possible. He has mastered the art of manipulation, and you have mastered the art of losing. And to be PC about it, we call it compromise.
The problem with compromise is that somewhere along the way, you lose yourself. Like Solomon, you abandon who you truly are, bend toward the will of someone else, and lose yourself. And just like the kingdom, you become divided. Confused about who you are anymore. Instead of standing for something, you stand for nothing. You give up your peace for pride without realizing you have taken on a mantle of shame in the process. The truth is, I would rather be the loser than lose myself in the process of securing a small sort of victory. I would rather be true to myself and to God than to cave for the good opinion of others. People are fickle, and their good opinions only take you so far. When it’s all said and done, would you rather have the approval of others, or the approval of God? One comes through compromise and one comes through steadfastness. You cannot compromise and please God. Want proof?
“Happy are people of integrity who follow the laws of the Lord. Happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.” -Psalm 119:1-4
“Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him.” -1 Kings 18:21 (in this story, 450 men died instantly for leading the Israelites astray)
“The ones who can live here are those who are honest and fair, who reject making a profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong. These are the ones who will dwell on high…” -Isaiah 33:15-16
And the Bible gives us clear warning that some will cause us to compromise our faith if we aren’t careful:
“Even some of you will distort the truth in order to draw a following.” -Acts 20:30
In light of this information, what’s a person to do?
“Keep alert and pray. Otherwise, temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.” -Matthew 26:41
“My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back to them!” -Proverbs 1:10
But where exactly do we turn?
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong with our lives. If straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” -Timothy 3:16-17
Because in the end …
“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” -Isaiah 7:9
*Info on Solomon’s life taken from 1 Kings 3-12