OK, so here we are several weeks (at this point) into 2018. How’re your new year’s resolutions? I’m hopeful that you’re doing well, but if you’re like many of us, you’ve had a stumble or two already. Is it time to throw up the white flag and give up? No; it’s time to double down on those good intentions, examine what happened on the stumbles, and overcome!
But how? For the next few weeks, let’s talk about a few things that can help us overcome. These will be things that we often already know, but overlook. We’ll start with the principle: (1 Corinthians 15:33) “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
One of the great enemies of our great intentions for spiritual growth is the way that other people around us live. God created us as social beings; and no matter how independent we’d like to think we are, we will be influenced by others. That’s why Paul started the principle of 1 Cor. 15:33 with “Do not be deceived”. From language to bad eating habits, to attitudes, to substance abuse, to even faith—the behavior, attitudes, etc. of others influences us deeply.
And by the way, the influence of others is not just the people that we are physically around. These days we have more “company” than ever in the history of the world in the form of: TV (how many hours of this do we do per week?), music (how many hours?), internet (how many hours?), social media (how many hours?)—all of it available in “technicolor”. And how much of the TV, music, internet, and social media is wholesome, G-rated, in other words, something that you would not be ashamed to do, say, or be entertained by in front of the Lord?
“But I just filter out the bad stuff” we may answer. Yes, if we are sincerely trying to be disciples of Jesus, we must and probably do filter out a lot. We must be in the world but not of the world (John 17:15,16). But let’s talk about filtering.
Sometimes filtering begins with eliminating big chunks. What about the genre of your music that might be continually filled with glorifying lust and sexual sin, violence, or rebellion? What about some of the TV shows that you watch that consistently model bad attitudes, worldliness, and acceptance of sinful lifestyles. How about your social media or favorite internet sites? Or even—here’s the really tough one—your circle of worldly friends.
“Is that really necessary?” you may ask. Paul replies, “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.”
“Then, who will I associate with? What kind of music will I listen to? It will be so awkward to unfriend some folks. And my TV shows!! Won’t things get boring?” The fact that we think non-worldly friends, TV, music, etc. will be boring says something about how much we’ve already been negatively influenced by them, doesn’t it? Good isn’t more boring, sin isn’t more interesting. “Interesting” is defined by what we choose to find interesting.
But to answer the question of who will I associate with, well there are your Christian friends, right? There are more wholesome TV shows on, more wholesome music available, etc. If it is true that bad company corrupts good morals; it is also true that good company will promote good morals. Substitute good influences for bad ones and you’ll be surprised at how much easier the good, godly things that you want to add to your life will become.