(Not rated, 2001, 20th Century Fox)
Main Point: We must be wary of the small sins in our lives, because they lead to larger sins.
Television Series Clip – 24, Season One, Episode One
This television series, now very popular, features an agent (played by Kiefer Sutherland) from the Los Angeles Counter-Terrorist Unit. In this season, he has less than a day to stop an assassination on a presidential candidate. The series is comprised of twenty-four one-hour episodes, all in real time, together making up the events of an entire day. The series is really intense and well-written. The language isn’t too bad, and there isn’t too much gore or hard-to-watch scenes in the first season.
Clip: No Compromise
This particular clip is in the very first episode in the first season of 24
. Of course, this is when the authors had to establish Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) character. The clip begins at approximately 31:10. Be sure you get it cued just right, because right before this clip is a screen with four different scenes all happening at the same time; one of them is a teenage couple making out. I’d recommend just avoiding that altogether. The clip itself is a little over a minute and a half, so it’s pretty quick. It features Jack Bauer talking to one of his colleagues, Agent Nina Myers. Jack is trying to get information on possible terrorist activity, and he has been forced to detain and interrogate his own superior. He knows that he can go to jail for what he is doing, but he knows that what he is doing is right. Nina is pleading with Jack to just “look the other way” so that Jack won’t have to leave his family alone by going to jail. The end of the scene is right around 35:12, after Nina finally concedes to Jack.
JACK: (on phone) Richard, it’s Jack. Call me back. It’s important.
NINA: I thought you wanted to get your life back together. Make things right with your family. You think this is helping?
JACK: He’s got information that I need.
NINA: What information? Never mind. You can’t tell me, fine. But, Jack, if Tony doesn’t find anything, you could end up in jail.
NINA: Then what are you doing? Jack. Answer me.
JACK: Nina, you can look the other way once and it’s no big deal. Except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time and pretty soon that’s all you’re doing is compromising because that’s how you think things are done. You know those guys I blew the whistle on? You think they were the bad guys? ‘Cause they weren’t. They weren’t bad guys. They were just like you and me… except they compromised once.
NINA: I’ll see how Tony’s coming along.
JACK: Thank you.
has become a really popular series. People everywhere are talking about Jack Bauer. One of the reasons the show is so well-liked is that there is this idea of making the right choice, no matter what the cost. The clip you just saw was in the first episode in the first season. The writers decided to set the stage with making Jack Bauer a man who will not compromise. According to Jack Bauer, only compromising once was what separated him from men he had sent to prison. It wasn’t the great crimes they had committed that made them different from Jack, it was the little compromise in the beginning. Right now we’re going to split up into our discussion groups and talk about compromising.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Let's go around the circle, and everyone say your name and what your favorite TV show is.
- ASK SOMEONE: Before we get too far into this, what does Jack Bauer mean when he uses the word compromise?
- ASK A FEW: Do you agree with Jack, that compromising just once makes it easier to compromise again? Why?
- ASK A FEW: What are some examples that you can think of that show how compromising in a small way can lead to bigger things?
- ASK A FEW: Is it important to focus on the “little” sins in our lives and try to control ourselves there? Why?
ASK SOMEONE: This passage ends with the death as a consequence. But if we go back to the beginning of the process, where does it all begin? (correct answer: our own evil desires)
ASK A FEW: What are some of the evil desires that James may be talking about that students your age are tempted with?
ASK A FEW: When students do these things, how do they rationalize it?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What are ways that you find yourself tempted to do small things that don’t seem like that big of a deal?
ASK A FEW: What are some of the great dangers of compromising with these little things?
James 1:14-16 (NLT)
“Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.”
Now would be a perfect time for one of the adult leaders in your group (or a student leader) to give a real example of how this has played out in their own life. They might want to also talk about what they did to get out of the trap they were in.
ASK SOMEONE: In your own words, what is Paul saying in this passage?
ASK SOMEONE: Even in the little things, do you believe that God has given us the ability to not compromise?
ASK A FEW: In your life, which are you giving the most power to: your own evil desires or your desire to do what’s right?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is one small thing that you find yourself being tempted with regularly, and what are you going to do this week to resist that temptation?
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
“But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”
Later on in the book of James, James admits that we all stumble in many ways. We all have evil desires. The problem is that when we start focusing on our evil desires and allow ourselves to compromise in even the smallest ways, it makes it easier to compromise again later. Perhaps the most dangerous things in our lives are the little sins in our lives, because they don’t seem like that big of a deal. But we must remember that every step we take is a step on a certain path. Either we take a step on a path of compromise that ultimately ends up where you do not
want to be, or you take a step on the path of doing what’s right, which gives you power to do what’s right in the future. Small successes or small screw-ups are only roads to bigger successes or bigger screw-ups. But we have to remember that God has given us power to turn away from our evil desires.
There is always
a way out, no matter how tempted we feel. If you’re one of the students who are saying to themselves, “But I’m already in the middle of doing a lot of wrong,” don’t worry. There is always a way out. Remember [the leader and their testimony]. There is always a way out. Paul himself, who used to have Christians arrested so they would be put to death, ends up saying in Philippians 3,
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
As long as we understand where we are going and who we are serving, we have already taken the first step on the right path. It’s time to begin living our lives without compromise.
Written by Matt Furby