A few weeks ago i had a job laying floor tile. A tile floor consists of a lot of little pieces, usually square, that must be laid out in a pattern and cemented to the floor so that they won't move. As you do this you must leave a space between the pieces for grout. This also allows for minor adjustments. These pieces and spaces need to be uniform not only so it will look right but also so it will fit right. You find a place to start and do a few at a time and since you cannot walk on them for a day or so you make sure you leave the door area for last. While you are going along there are pieces that don't want to fit right and pieces that must be cut to fit against the walls, cabinets, etc. When these opportunities come along you are tempted to compromise a little because a little compromise is very difficult to see unless you are the one who did it. You can get away with this a few times because there is room to make up for it later by adjusting the space between the pieces however if you compromise too much at the beginning the pieces at the end won't fit at all.
Well as i stood at the door and surveyed the job we had done. Overall it looked good, the owners of the house loved it, and the few compromises we made were evident only to us, after all when you hold each piece in your hand and know exactly how they fit together, you know every compromise that was made. Never one to let a learning opportunity escape without teaching, the Spirit pointed out to me how much like a life that floor was.
There are opportunities to compromise all along the way and the less your goal is perfection the more of those opportunities you will take advantage of. You know, at the beginning of the floor, and a life, these little compromises will speed things up, make it easier, and sometimes give you what you want. The further along you go however the more these little compromises add up and the less things fit together right. By the time you reach the end of the job, or a life, the pieces don't fit at all and all the time and energy you saved by not doing it right from the beginning are lost. With the floor you can always tear it up and do it over, at a considerable loss, however the longer you wait to fix it the harder it is and the more it costs. It's the same with a life but with a life if you wait too long you don't get a do over, though you can be forgiven all the way until your last breath.
Right in the middle of the sermon on the mount, the manifesto for the Christian life, Jesus said; Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5: 48 While none of us has achieved perfection, that is, or at least should be, the goal. Even with this high standard you will compromise enough, thankfully Jesus gave His life's blood so that we can be forgiven if we ask for it. If you are having trouble resisting these opportunities to compromise, otherwise known as temptation, pray for strength and read the word, and remember that self control is a fruit of the Spirit. Once the Spirit told me that self control is like muscles, the more you exercise it the stronger it gets.