“Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
My husband and I are incompatible. There…I’ve said it! Fortunately, it has not kept us from living and loving together for fifty years. To my way of thinking, incompatibility is a nice word for our inability to adjust to, or maneuver through, irritating situations we may find ourselves in. In fact, it can simply indicate my unease with anyone who is not like me. (Notice, the verse does not question the companionability of two who are not alike, but two who are not “agreed.”)
There is an entire industry of marital matchmaking built on the concept of compatibility; and incompatibility is now considered legal (but not Biblical) grounds for divorce. Frankly, as much as I like me, I would not care to spend hours on end with someone exactly like me. In the first place, it would be mentally unchallenging. (What am I saying?) It would also provide precious little opportunity for me to grow socially, intellectually, and spiritually (Prov.27:17). If I’m inept at dealing with personality differences in someone I love, think how limited I will be in the rest of my inter-personal relationships.
Still, as the verse points out, there are individuals with whom I would be hard-pressed to spend a lifetime. Obviously, it wouldn’t be someone I merely disagreed with on incidentals like what color to paint the living room or where to go on vacation; but, rather, important issues like what should be the standard for our life together: the Word of God or the criteria of our culture. I would not want the devil for my spiritual “father-in-law” (Jno.8:44), but neither could I come to terms with an individual whose Christianity is only brought to bear on a part of his life. If my husband’s primary goal in life is to glorify God and live by His Word, it makes little difference to me if his secondary ones are things like neat closets, symmetrically aligned bedspreads, empty hampers, and perfectly ironed shirts. These may grate at times, but they pale in importance next to his love for God. That’s the compatibility clincher for me.
Come to think of it, there was no one with whom you and I were less compatible than God Almighty. Apart from being our Creator, we had nothing in common. But He refused to leave it at that. He chose to become one of us (Heb.7:26), and His substitutionary death and resurrection bridged the gap between us. Now, what we as believers have in common with God the Father—His Son—makes us completely compatible, one with another. And nothing can change that. Guarded sin on our part may make us less than companionable at times, but we will always be compatible. We belong together.
By stooping to incarnate Himself in human flesh, God has given us an example, and a pattern, for how to achieve compatibility: humility. (You knew there was a catch, didn’t you?) Perhaps what we’re talking about here is not incompatibility, but pride.