I will never forget the moment when, as a young married couple, my husband and I were faced with an extremely socially awkward situation. We were visiting friends we hadn’t seen in several years, and someone suggested that we all watch their family’s favorite movie. But as soon as the opening scene began, Eric and I knew it wasn’t the kind of movie we should be watching.
Within the first five minutes, we were totally uncomfortable, stealing sideways glances at each other and silently trying to figure out what we should do. We knew that to suddenly get up and walk out of the room (or ask our hosts to turn the movie off) would likely cause our friends to be offended. But to stay and subject ourselves to an hour and a half of profanity and perversion would be dishonoring to God. And yet, we just couldn’t seem to bring ourselves to take the uncomfortable step of getting up and walking out of that living room, so we stayed put.
Later that night, we reflected together about the situation, feeling slimed and frustrated. Why hadn’t we taken a stronger stand? Why hadn’t we been willing to risk our reputation for the sake of God’s glory and the protection of our own consciences?
Courage to Be Different
After prayer and reflection, we realized that it really all came down to fear. Fear of what they would think of us if we lived out our convictions in front of them. Fear that our friends would mock or criticize our “unreasonable” Christian standards. We had placed our “fear of man” above our fear of God.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
We had allowed the fear of man to bring a snare into our souls. We had approached the entire situation with an attitude of fear, instead of faith, and as a result we missed a valuable opportunity to demonstrate God’s nature to our friends and to protect the purity of our hearts and minds in the process.
When you spend time around people who don’t understand or support your personal convictions, it can be tempting to believe that you must look for subtle ways to compromise your standards or conceal your true beliefs in order to avoid being mocked or criticized.
But as set-apart women, we must ask God for the courage to be different, even when it’s uncomfortable. A great Christian evangelist once wrote, “He (or she) who fears God, fears no man.”
Putting Christ First
The most important principle for living set apart among ungodly friends is putting our relationship with Christ first always. When we try to protect our popularity by dishonoring Jesus, we accomplish nothing but to impede our own soul and hinder our intimacy with Christ. Not to mention that when we compromise, we can’t truly point others to Jesus Christ. Our participation in their ungodly activities only helps justify the ungodly choices they are making, instead of bringing them to a place of conviction and grief over their sin. But when we consistently live out uncompromising truth with gentleness, humility, and respect, we can set the stage for God to do a mighty work of grace in others’ lives.
Show by your life and example that you are unashamed of the gospel of Christ. Your friends may not always appreciate it, but God will honor you as you choose to honor Him. (Want proof? See 1 Sam. 2:30.) Here’s another thought: your uncompromising stand for truth may be the very tool that God uses to eventually draw their hearts to Him!
Have you faced a similar situation? Did you compromise or live set apart?