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24/08/2014

Uncompromising Influence

'Uncompromising' is a word that can have negative connotations. Compromising is a part of many areas of life. In buying houses, we try to negotiate on the price and one party or the other might compromise. Marriages without compromise can run into difficulty fairly quickly!

But there are some areas where we won’t compromise. As a grandfather walking alongside a busy road with my six-year-old granddaughter, I won’t compromise on making her hold my hand for her safety.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Matt. 5:13) When we compromise in our faith, we lose our ‘saltiness’, our distinctiveness.

We read in Daniel 1:1-21 that Daniel used the gifts that God had given him and kept faithful to God – he was uncompromising when it came to following God, yet he also genuinely engaged with the culture around him. How do we live lives like that, uncompromising yet engaged?

Daniel and his friends recognised the hand of God at work in their circumstances. They didn’t become bitter or keep themselves locked away from the culture and people around them, but instead they stood out for excelling in all that they did, because they did it for God.

Like Daniel, Christians are living “as foreigners and exiles” who are called to “live such good lives” that those around us take notice and come to worship God (1 Peter 2:11-12).

There are many areas of life where the Bible is clear on how Christians should live, but there are some areas where it is less clear – for example, what newspapers should I read? What films should I watch? Which political party should I vote for?

When it comes to making those sorts of decisions, there are biblical principles that help us to draw lines in the sand, as it were. Questions we can ask include: Does it glorify God? Is there a clear principle in the Bible to follow? Is it helpful to the growth of my relationship with God? Does it show God’s love? Is it helpful to others?

People who play sports don’t get hung up on where the lines on the court or field are placed. They are just concentrating on winning. Likewise, if we have immovable lines that we have clearly marked down, they help us to live life to the full without compromising.

Compromise can often come at times of sadness and stress or success and celebration. How do we react when we crash the car or get made redundant? Likewise, how do we react when we get a pay rise or a promotion? Is our reaction to hard times to be confident in God, and in the good times to give Him the glory?

The Holy Spirit works in our hearts and renews our minds (Romans 12:2), helping us to know what is right and what is wrong. We also have our Christian brothers and sisters around us who can give input into the decisions we make.

Taking time to think about whether our actions demonstrate the love of God to others will really help us know how to behave. Asking if it will help someone else is also important: it is better to dispense with our ‘right’ to do something, than to offend someone by what we do.

The example of Daniel helps us to consider how we can engage with our culture in an uncompromising way. When we do, we bring glory to God and see others come to worship Him.

To listen to the 'Uncompromising Influence' sermon and download the life application questions, click here.

Steve Young

Posted by Steve Young
20:03


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