Compartmentalization. It’s a big word, but an important one to understand. It’s something lots of people do. And when we do, it causes problems for us spiritually, emotionally and relationally.
To compartmentalize is to divide life into parts and to make an assumption that one part doesn’t affect the other parts. We mentally segment our behaviors and attitudes, convincing ourselves that sin, weakness or compromise in one area doesn’t really impact any other areas. We justify and tolerate things in certain “compartments” of life, telling ourselves that “it’s no big deal,” but are blind to the fact that poison and pain in one compartment of life eventually seep into the other compartments of life.
Healthy people live with a “whole life” perspective rather than a compartmentalized perspective. They seek “integrity,” which is “the active pursuit of wholeness and holiness in all parts of life.”
There’s a passage in the Bible that tells us about some people who spiritually compartmentalized their lives. They tolerated and justified one bad behavior, failing to realize that their compromise was noted by God. It became their downfall.
Take a look at the verse:
What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria — the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine. — Isaiah 28:1 (NLT)
This verse describes God’s plans to discipline some of His people for their disobedience. This group had compromised their character and were forfeiting their future through one behavior. The sin is specifically identified.
According to the Bible, the people of Samaria were “brought down by wine.” Their preoccupation with and addiction to drink ruined them, and ultimately attracted God’s judgment. They had compartmentalized and justified this part of their lives, failing to see that it was destroying all parts of their lives.
The Hebrew phrase “brought down” means “to strike down; to hammer, stamp down or stamp out, trample down and conquer; to disband; to beat down and overcome.”
The life impact and legacy of this group of people had been robbed, stamped out and “beaten down” by their foolishness, disobedience and character weakness in one part of life. One area of spiritual and moral compromise eventually undermined their entire destiny.
This story is not only sad, it’s instructive. How often does the same thing happen to us? We fail to address one area of weakness, one area of addiction, one area of sin, one deeply ingrained destructive attitude, one negative way of thinking, one broken part of our character, and this failure keeps us from God’s highest and best. We eventually discover that spiritual and emotional poison and pain in one compartment always seep into the other compartments of our lives. When this happens, the results are not pretty. The results can be disastrous.
Ask God to help you avoid living a compartmentalized life. Ask Him to help you be whole and holy in all parts of your life.