We’ve all heard that “Bad company corrupts good morals” or “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel”. Jesus gave a similar warning, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). And the apostle Paul observed: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Gal. 5:9).
These sayings all make the same important point: It only takes a little bit of compromise, a little bit of sin, a little bit of going along with evil people to corrupt our whole lives. After all their work resisting their enemies in the first six chapters of Nehemiah, and after the walls are finally completed, we read that some of the “nobles of Judah” were in cahoots with Tobiah, who had staunchly opposed the rebuilding efforts. You may be shocked that such betrayal came so quickly on the heels of their victory. That didn’t take long!
These nobles were “under oath” to Tobiah because he had enmeshed himself and his family with “important” people in Judah through marriage—marriages that would not have happened if the people of Judah had kept their word not to marry non- Israelites (see Ezra 10:10–11).
These nobles wanted to bring peace between Nehemiah and Tobiah and used an all-too-familiar tactic: “He’s not such a bad guy, Nehemiah. You just need to give him a chance. Look at all the good things he’s done!” Nehemiah, though, would not be deceived by the nobles’ positive spin on Tobiah. After all, Tobiah had again revealed his true character when he “sent letters to intimidate” Nehemiah (v. 19). Whether the nobles genuinely believed Tobiah was a good person, we do not know. But we can be certain that his rottenness spread through their ranks.
>> We always need to be on guard against even the slightest compromise in our life that will lead us away from following God. One small choice, one wrong decision can corrupt everything. Why take that risk?!
Teach us how to avoid compromise while extending grace and compassion toward those who don’t know You: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Ps. 89:14).