Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bow or Burn

Compromise is a part of life. Regardless of age, marital status, or occupation, we all must compromise. And that's good sometimes. Compromise helps us gets things done. It keeps marriages together and friendships fulfilled and jobs on track.

Sure, compromise is good. But only to a point. Which brings me to my point. Have we gotten too good at compromise? Have we as Christians lost our righteous resolve? Has our politically-correct, I'm-a-yes-man-at-all-costs living caused us to compromise what isn't negotiable?

Case in point. My job requires me to make judgment calls that could divert lots of money to the right - or wrong - hands. It doesn't come up everyday, but when it does I always dread making the call. So today as I try to think myself out of this proverbial paper bag of my company's making, I realize: this isn't about money. This isn't about my boss. This is about one thing and one thing only: am I willing to compromise what I know is right to make important people happy? To make my day go a little easier?

And that's when it hit me - just as if someone had thrown open the door to the fiery furnace itself. He hasn't gone anywhere. We are still facing Nebuchadnezzar.

You remember the story. In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar played the part of the spoiled and dream-riddled king who commanded everyone to bow and worship his ridiculous golden statue. The story might have ended there, but three of the king's own "employees" - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - refused to bow. Despite threats to bow or burn, the three were steadfast in their refusal to compromise.

Of course, I have no idea what those young guys could have thought before they issued their bold refusal to bow. Maybe one of them reasoned, "It's just a stupid statue. God knows where my heart is and knows I don't really worship the thing. I'll just bow really quickly and get out of there."

Another could have argued, "I need this job. I mean, I don't agree with bowing, but this guy's our boss. When he says bow, I say 'how low?'."

The last one could have decided, "This is not worth my life. Burning just because I won't bow? Forget it. Besides, I've needed to work on being a team player."

Somehow, I doubt it. Somehow, I think each had already resolved in his heart to live righteously. To stand - at all costs - without compromise. All my Bible says is that the three told the king they wouldn't bow - even if it ultimately meant their lives - and were thrown into the fiery furnace. And whadya know. God met them in the midst of their refusal to compromise and delivered them from the flames.

All that because they wouldn't bow. Because they wouldn't be team players. Because they had adopted a lifestyle of righteous resolve... a place of firm decision to live morally upright without guilt or sin... likely before that statue ever went up.

It makes me wonder. What statues are in my future? Who's my Nebuchadnezzar? Do I have that kind of righteous resolve?

Sure, compromise can be good. But it can also mean the difference between bow or burn.

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