I was listening to a podcast this afternoon dealing with doomsday preparation. I’m not a big proponent of worrying, and so I took what the guy was saying with a grain of salt. However, he made a point that we in America are a bit removed from knowing how to handle a sewer system failure. Obviously, we would need to get rid of waste, lest we become diseased from all the bacteria. His point: most Americans would never think about not dumping upstream. They’d just go to the nearest point and dump the waste, contaminating the water source for everyone. Not good! It should go without saying that people need clean, fresh water to survive.
If you’ve ever lived in an area where there have been lots of rain or perhaps power outages, you may have had a boil warning. Any water that was going to go into your body needed to be boiled first due to contamination and bacteria. Perhaps you’ve turned on a faucet connected to really old pipes and got a glass full of rusty water. Maybe you’ve gone to a city fountain and found that it was covered in algae. All of these scenarios are disgusting. People need fresh water, not compromised or contaminated water.
Solomon wrote that a righteous person who gives in to the wicked around him is like a contaminated fountain or spring. His exact words are, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked,” (Proverbs 25:26, ESV). Clean water is vital. So is a clean heart and soul. When we give in to those around who are begging, tricking, or confusing us to just compromise, we find that the last source of refreshing, pure water has been contaminated. As believers we are called to live a holy life in the midst of an unholy people. We are to live as a light in a dark world. When we give up that holiness for the sake of expediency, we leave the people around us without an example, without a witness. There is no longer a light shining in the darkness to show the way to Christ.
Like the muddied spring and like the polluted fountain, all is not lost. One must wait for the dirt to settle and the polluted water to wash away, but eventually the crystal clear, refreshingly cool water will once again appear. In other words, we will have to wait until our credibility has been restored. That being said, it is better if it had never been muddied in the first place. So let us stay true. Let us not muddy the waters of righteousness.