“…they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon, King of Assyria, who brought us here.” (Ezra 4:2)
Compromises can be either good or bad. Wise leaders sense and weigh tradeoffs. Good compromise re-energizes stagnant effort. It encourages creative innovation when progress is stalled. Refined ideas can clear misunderstandings and bridge false impressions. Good compromise fuels cooperation, fosters creativity and promotes innovation. Experienced leadership and keen insight avoid compromise that undermines values. Bad compromises are dangerous. If unchecked, they undermine, sabotage, distract and destabilize the best intentions.
After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, Jewish captives were led into Babylonian captivity. Forty-eight years later, in 538 BC under Persian rule, Zerubbabel returned to begin reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls. Compromises with surrounding nations and political intrigue stalled Zerubbabel’s efforts. Eighty years later (458 BC), Ezra led a second band of Jewish faithful to refresh efforts. Armed with Artaxerxes decrees and authority, Ezra discovered that the Jews had also compromised their faith, married foreigners and defected to idol worship. Ezra fought to restore purity, inside Israel, and fend-off physical and political threats from Israel’s enemies. Finally, thanks to Ezra’s restoration and Nehemiah’s third group of Jewish settlers, Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt in 445 BC.
In all likelihood, compromised values doubled the time needed to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Despite the lessons of poor judgment and compromised values, we are encouraged by two prophets with faithful, insightful, strong leadership. Ezra and Nehemiah were brilliant strategists, wise leaders and faithful prophets. These two individuals confronted weak character, insults, oppression, greed, sabotage and deceitful compromise. With God’s help, they overcame bad compromises.
Today, Christian men are under attack from both obscure and obvious tactics. Thanks be to God who gives us the eternal victory. Daily scripture teaches godly character and values. Daily prayer enlightens us. These keep our perspective clear and our eyes focused. In prayer, the Holy Spirit empowers us to see the enemy’s agenda. For battle, God’s men are equipped with spiritual armor: a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sword of the God’s Spirit, the shield of faith and shod with peace.
I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, when he writes, “Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.” (2Cor 11:15, The Message).
G Campbell Morgan once remarked, “The reason why men do not look to the Church today is that she has destroyed her own influence by compromise.” Christ-character requires faithful diligence!