The subtle power of compromise

Image: The subtle power of compromise

What standards have you set for your life? When are you tempted to lower them?

I’m not one to splurge.

Before I buy almost anything, I usually do a significant amount of research, I think about how useful what I’m buying will be to me, etc.

But…sometimes I throw caution to the wind and buy whatever the heck I want.

The $50 ounce of perfume

Right after I graduated college, I wanted to treat myself to something I wanted.

I just spent the last four years working hard, overcommitting to a million things, and getting good grades so I could receive a glorified piece of paper that says I know something about something. Not to mention that the last few weeks of my college career were quite possibly the worst weeks of my life.

It just so happened that I was at the mall with my mom during my month visit to Oregon and I stumbled upon some perfume that smelled like heaven was liquefied and condensed into a tiny golden bottle.

This was the kind of perfume that transformed lives ... so I spent $50 for a tiny 1 oz bottle of it.

Part of me is ashamed…but it smells really good…

How I started to compromise my standards

In order to be responsible, I told myself I would only wear the perfume on special occasions so it would last a long time. And initially, that worked very well.

I wore it to a wedding ... A couple of weeks passed.

I wore it on a date … and then again on a few more dates.

As time went by, I started compromising what the words “special occasion” meant.

Oh, I’m going to church? That’s a special occasion, right?

Oh, I’m going to Starbucks to read and watch people? Definitely a special occasion.

Oh, I’m staying in bed and writing all day? Something needs to make me feel good about myself. *glances at glorious golden bottle* Special occasion.

It’s funny how we do that.

We compromise standards and rules we set for ourselves.

When compromise gets messy

The only consequence of compromising on my perfume standards, is that it will run out quickly and I’ll have to settle for cheap body spray that smells a little less like heaven and a little more like rubbing alcohol.

But there are other areas of life where compromising gets messy. And I know, because I’ve done it.

To give you a better idea of what I mean by “other areas of life”, let me give you a few examples that you might be able to relate to.

  • Perhaps you told yourself that you were going to focus on incorporating spiritual disciplines (prayer, scripture reading, etc.) into your daily routine. BUT then you decided you just didn’t feel like you needed to because you had other stuff to do.
  • Perhaps you told yourself that you wouldn’t watch certain TV shows or listen to certain music because they contained themes and images that were ungodly. BUT when you were hanging out with your friends and they wanted to watch those shows and listen to that music…you figured it really wasn’t a big deal.
  • Perhaps you and your boyfriend/girlfriend set boundaries for the physical aspect of your relationship. BUT then one night you decided that as long as you didn’t go “too far”, then you could push the original boundaries a little.

Be careful how you live

I can see on reflection that compromise in my life usually happens in times of weakness and vulnerability … when the appeal of enjoying the “experience” seems to override the importance of holding to values.

If that sounds like you too, be careful.

Be aware of what you’re doing and the situations you’re putting yourself in.

The Bible says to “be careful then how you live…” (Ephesians 5:15)

As a Christian, this is particularly important in order to be obedient and fulfill the calling to a higher standard of living.

I’m not telling you to keep yourself in a bubble and build walls to keep the world out of your life. I’m encouraging you to experience life and be open, but I’m also encouraging you to have the maturity and awareness to know when the experience isn’t worth it or it contradicts the values you hold.

If you've set a standard for your life, be faithful to that.

Just like with my perfume, you may need to go back and remind yourself why you made the commitment in the first place. I’m not trying to keep you from enjoying life. I’m just trying to help you stay true to yourself and your saviour while you do.

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