Living On The Borderline: Part 3 Cosy With Compromise
INTRODUCTION In this 3-part article series on Living On The Borderline we are addressing the dangers of living with both feet in the Kingdom of God and this world. We may think we are smart to straddle both kingdoms. But in reality, we are setting ourselves up for a major fall. Part 1 addresses our choices over God’s choices. Part 2 tackles complacency. Part 3 examines the dangers of compromise by looking at the life of Balaam through the lens of Joshua 13:22 (NIV84) In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. Balaam son of Beor was a prophet but not a godly one. Balaam definitely heard from God, but he misused it for money. In his greed, he would sell his services for money. He prostituted his gift. So when Balak the King of Moab and the Midianite elders wanted to curse the Israelites, they sent for him and promised him much money (Num 22). But no matter how much Balaam wanted to, God would not permit him to curse the Israelites. Let’s consider the various ways Balaam compromised God's gift and its consequences. COMMERCIALISING GOD'S GIFT
God gives us supernatural gifts to bless His Church. Not to commercialise it for personal gain.
God gives us supernatural gifts to bless His Church. Not to commercialise it for personal gain. Ministers should not become millionaires through using the spiritual gifts God has given them. If they were already millionaires, it is another matter. Or if they made some smart investments, etc. But it should not be through commercialising their spiritual gifts! Don't misuse the gifts God has given to us! I am not saying that God’s servants cannot receive any compensation from their ministry. 1 Cor 9:9-11 (NIV) 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? There is a legitimate right to support for the ministry. And I believe we should take good care of God's servants and bless them. But there is a big difference between support, blessing and making them very rich! I like Rick Warren's approach. When his books became best sellers and sold millions, he made millions of dollars. What did he do then? He gave back to his church all 20 plus years of salary that he was paid! Don't misuse God's gifts. For it is to misuse God's grace! If we do not honour God properly with the gifts He has given us, we will face God's discipline one day. Gal 6:7 (NIV84) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Those who made millions by commercialising their spiritual gifts, they will receive little rewards in heaven because they have gained all their rewards on earth already! I loved what my first senior pastor, Ps. Richard Holland did after he retired. He travelled to smaller churches to minister and bless them. He was not seeking to be blessed, nor self-gain. But just to be a blessing to God’s people. You may not be a prophet or even a minister. But as long as you are a child of God, He has given you special gifts. Are you using them in a way that honours God? CORRUPTING GOD'S GIFT Joshua 13:22 (NIV84) In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. Balaam went beyond commercialising his spiritual gift. He corrupted it by enticing others into sinful practices and even ended up dabbling in the occult. Balaam advised King Balak to have their Midianite women seduce the Israelite men and lead them to idolatry. In Num 25 is recorded their success in causing Israelite men to sin with those women. Consequently, God judged them with a plague. God’s disgust at his actions are given in Rev 2:14 (NIV84) Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Here was a prophet who heard from God, yet also was greedy and unrighteous, who also practiced divination and sorcery. He corrupted the gift of God! How could he be a prophet? Maybe he was a prophet who compromised his allegiance to God and later dabbled in demonic sources as well. Perhaps in his greed, he wanted to have more power and influence which he would not get from what God had gifted him in alone. I have seen similar things happen to some Christians gifted by God who somehow went for other spirits as well. 1 Tim 4:1 (NIV84) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Do such people retain God's supernatural gift to them? Some believe that in Rom 11:29 (NIV84) for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. In other words, even when these ones go off the track, their gifts still remain. I am less certain. But certainly, God's gift does not appear to immediate disappear when they go off track. God is long suffering. However, in the end God judged Balaam and he was killed for his terrible sins, as recorded in Num 31:8.
Those operating supernatural gifts do not always mean they are in right standing with God!
What lessons can we learn from this? Those operating supernatural gifts do not always mean they are in right standing with God! We need to discern the fruits of their lives! So don't just follow everything they say or do. The Word is the standard! Just because we are operating in supernatural gifts does not in itself mean we are fine with God! Even if most of your gifts are not supernatural, consider whether you may be corrupting your gifts through worldly perspectives and values. Consequently, you may be using these gifts in the wrong way, in an unrighteous manner. Don’t live on the borderline! Let us decide today to use our spiritual gifts in a God-honouring fashion. And keep our hearts right before God! HOW TO AVOID COMPROMISE 1. Understand God’s Word
Ignorance is the Devil’s best tool to get us into compromise.
You don’t know what your spiritual compromise is unless you know the standard in God’s Word. Ignorance is the Devil’s best tool to get us into compromise. Ignorance is simply an inexcusable excuse. If a traffic police pulls you up for breaking a road rule, you cannot claim ignorance. 2. Renew your mind and heart continually
Unless we develop convictions that align with God’s Word, we will not be able to overcome the cut and thrust of this fallen world.
Besides knowing God’s principles, we have to let God’s Word renew our minds and hearts (Rom 12:2). Unless we develop convictions that align with God’s Word, we will not be able to overcome the cut and thrust of this fallen world. For more insights, view or read my leadership podcast on Building Deeper Convictions. 3. Be in godly company
Godly, mature Christ-followers are able to better discern between godly and worldly pursuits which we may be less aware of. They can alert us if we start to wander down the wrong path.
Godly, mature Christ-followers are able to better discern between godly and worldly pursuits which we may be less aware of. They can alert us if we start to wander down the wrong path. Our willingness to be accountable to these friends will be a strong safeguard for our choices. Further, when we amongst them, their faith, values, convictions and spiritual experiences can impact us significantly (Psa 1:1). I had benefited greatly having lived in amongst households with godly housemates who inspired my spiritual growth. Interacting with other godly leaders have also inspired my vision and spiritual leadership. 4. Rely upon God’s grace
Avoiding compromise is so challenging it needs us to rely upon God’s grace each day.
Avoiding compromise is so challenging it needs us to rely upon God’s grace each day. We are unable to do it by our own strength alone. We need to come to God each day asking for His strength and guidance. 5. Acknowledgment and repentance
If we did compromise, it is crucial to realise it and name it specifically. We have to identify the compromise, the sin and the situation leading to the sin. By doing so, we begin to understand why we compromised. Then we should repent before God. Not only to be sorry about it but to serious resolve not to fall into that compromise again. 6. Set boundaries
Very few of us can face continual temptation and pressure to compromise without falling in some way. To reduce such situations, we must develop appropriate boundaries to keep us further away from compromising situations. Just as all recovering alcoholics with Alcoholics Anonymous must determine to keep away from all alcohol. We must recognise that we have certain weaknesses that too frail otherwise. CONCLUSION The prophet Balaam compromised his prophetic gift and turned from God. It led to God’s judgment. Compromise is a persistent danger we all face. Pride, self-centredness, ignorance or even neglect can lead us down this path of compromise. Hence, we need to be determined not to compromise. Not our spiritual gifts, not our decisions, not our lives!
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