It was a cool Spring morning when my parents packed our car with fishing poles and bait and decided to take my brother and me on a fishing adventure. I was about eight or nine years old and it may have been our first time fishing. (If there was another, I don’t remember.) Mom was ready with her camera, and Jamie and I were excited to give this new adventure a try. Well, it didn’t take long for the excitement to wear off as we began to realize that fishing is mostly about waiting. And being quiet. And more waiting. It seemed like an eternity had passed and all we’d done is get our lines caught in trees, dropped the camera and broke it, and watched our bobbers float on top of the water. B-O-R-ING. Then, almost out of nowhere, I saw the most amazing thing through the shallow water: A FISH! Finally, a fish! Maybe it would see my bait, bite my hook, and I’d finally catch a fish. Only he didn’t seem interested. He just swam around totally ignoring the delicious bait on the end of my hook. (I mean, I assume it would be delicious to a fish—I didn’t taste it!) That’s when I got an idea: maybe I should move the bait closer to the fish. So I leaned in as far as I could, hoping to reach the fish. I didn’t. Instead, I lost my balance and fell into the water. Next thing you know, my Dad was fishing ME out of the water! (Ok, it was more like yanking me out while yelling about the fact that I fell in.) For sure, fishing was over for that day and I soon found myself in the car, wrapped in a blanket, explaining why I’d gotten so close to the edge. And that folks is why I avoid the edge of anything. Balconies. Cliffs. Even stages. If there’s an edge, I stay a step or two away. Because I am clumsy. Falls hurt. Knowing these two facts, I choose to avoid the edges. It is also why I try very hard to avoid compromising with sin. Because when it comes to our spiritual lives, compromise is the edge that causes too many Christians to fall.
It starts off simple enough. We think, “It’s no big deal. It’s just a little thing. Technically, it could be considered a gray area. I’m certainly not going to lose my salvation because I choose to watch this, go here, do that, hang out with this person.” It’s so easy to justify pushing the line just a little bit—-dabbling with sin as long as we don’t go over the line. So we lean in a little closer toward sin. Of course, the problem is that if we get away with it for a while, we start to feel comfortable. Before we know it, we’ve let our guard down. We’ve gotten away with it so far, why worry so much about the danger? Yet, this is the most dangerous time of all—comfortable with their compromise and not even questioning whether what they are doing is right or wrong, this is the time where too many people find themselves falling over the edge. Like my fishing expedition, before they know it they have fallen, and they are suffering the consequences of their sin. Sitting on the sidelines, trying to put their lives back together they ask, “How did this happen? How did I get here?” The answer is simple: You got too close to the edge. That’s why I am a huge believer that as followers of Christ we need to avoid compromise at all costs. Don’t play with it. Don’t entertain it. Don’t try to see how much sin you can participate in before you fall, or get caught, or experience heartache. Instead, stay away from compromise. Cling to the boundaries that God has set up in His Word. Stay as far away from sin and evil as possible. Passionately pursue holiness giving God every opportunity to remove sin from your life and make you into the image of Jesus. Listen to the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t do this.” Listen to the warning of fellow believers who say, “This is not a good idea—this is dangerous.” Here’s a good test: If you have to justify why it’s okay—don’t do it. Avoid compromise at all costs. “Well, here you go again, Adessa, being extreme. But trust me, I can handle it. I’m a really strong Christian and I won’t fall.” My first thought is, “Maybe don’t be so confident—we’re only human.” However, my second thought is, “What if it isn’t all about you?” What if you really are strong and can balance on the beam of compromise without ever falling? What if you make it look so good, so easy, so safe that someone sees you and thinks, “I can do that!” But what if they can’t? What if they aren’t as strong as you are, but because they look up to you they think, “If she can do it, it must be alright, it must be safe?” What if they fall? You see, the thing about being a follower of Christ is that our lives aren’t just about us. We are all called to influence others to enter into and grow in their relationship with God. Even if you believe that you are strong enough to dance on the edge of the cliff, the question you need to ask yourself is: “Who is watching me?” Is it your kids? A younger believer? A weaker believer? Someone who is struggling to overcome the sin that you are compromising with? Even if you don’t fall, will you be able to live with the fact that your compromise caused them to fall? This is why I believe that Paul encourages us in Romans 14:12 to “Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” (NLT) In Corinthians 8:9 he says, “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” (NLT) And in 2 Corinthians 6:3, “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.” (NLT) Rather than trying to get as close to sin as we can without falling, we need to live as close as we can to Jesus and God’s Word every single day of our lives. First, so we don’t fall. Second, so we don’t cause others to fall. Instead, we should do what I should have done on my fishing trip: stay away from the edge. No compromise!
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.