The danger of compromise & the promise of victory


It seems to me that there’s only two routes forward (as I negotiate this tricky business of life).

According to the book of Joshua, I either take the Caleb route or the Compromise route.

I mean to say, can’t you spot the compromise here?

The land allotted to the tribe of Judah, according to its clans, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south….[but] Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.” (This is from Joshua 15-17, a  long retrospective sketch of the state of play after years of war)

To this day! The Jebusites could not be dislodged.

Imagine a guest -a cranky aunt, say- who arrived on the Tuesday and by the Thursday was sorting out a special shelf in the fridge for herself,  and by the Saturday was arranging for the redecoration of the living room and… you get the idea.

So, as a symbol of this compromise,  Jerusalem itself remained in enemy hands right through this period  up until the time of David (2 Samuel 5:6-10).


Compromise indicates a weakness of intent and a failure to complete.


And that’s the general story: tribe after tribe admits that it simply could not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt there:

The Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites to this day and have become forced laborers.”

“To this day “again – what a sad litany.

Why could they subjugate them but not drive them out? It’s a tiny compromise that seemed innocent, but which provided a door for later problems. This is one reason why we see so many struggles in the days of the Judges.

If you leave even a tiny cut untreated, the infection may spread into something far more serious…

Jesus once said that “The Prince of this world comes, but he has no hold on me” (John 14:30) The problem with any kind of compromise is it is less than obedience and provides a handhold for later attack.

Is there something in me in me that creates a compromise? I want to be completely set on following your will. I understand that if that is not so, then when things get tough, I won’t be able to stand.  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139).

Sin is always a compromise.

There’s a remarkable passage in Genesis 4:7 within the Cain and Abel story which examines the role of sin in our choices. Here it is:

“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

The same thought is picked up by Paul in Romans 6:16:

“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”

The key principle is this: What you tolerate will eventually dominate”

But the book of Joshua contains an alternative route. It’s the Caleb route. The guy just didn’t seem to understand the concept of giving in.

The bottom line is that you either go all the way with God or you settle for a compromise that leads to trouble, further on.

Got any Jebusites you can’t dislodge?

In the account of Judah (Joshua 15:1-12) the Caleb touch is revealed: a flash of the old man’s fire as he offers prizes for bravery- the leader inspiring the led. And it flares up again in his daughter: in fact, her claim resembles her father’s boldness. “Give me this mountain” sounds very like “Give me also springs of water.

I’ve decided that that’s the route I want to take.

Give me this mountain!

Give me also springs of water!

I’ve seen something of your glory, and I want more!

OK, I know that “sin is crouching at my door” but “My God is able to deliver me! “He is able to keep me from falling!

In the New Testament there are two that exemplify the principle. Judas compromised, Peter made it through. Both experienced sin “crouching” and both fell! But one maintained his Caleb vision, repented and was restored.

One didn’t.


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