Have you ever had a friend whose presence seemed to have a bad influence on almost every situation? Reflecting over my childhood years, a few of these people come to mind. I was generally a pretty good kid, but when one of these friends was around, things always seemed to go downhill. My parents knew who these “bad seeds” or “ring leaders” were. I knew it too, I was just never willing to concede. Admitting my folks were right may have propelled me to make a different choice, which may have led me to miss out on the fun. No thanks.
Now that I’m old, and have kids of my own (I have one who suffers from a severe case of FoMO – the Fear of Missing Out), the wisdom found in 1 Corinthians 15:33 means more to me than ever, Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. Funny thing is, this truth applies no matter how old we are. It also goes both ways. While one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, one good, influential person can also raise everyone else’s game. We see these truths illustrated in the first four verses of Ecclesiastes 10 today.
Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.
Verse 1 is about the bad apple. In contrast, verse 4 gives us a picture of the person who doesn’t get pulled into the fray, rather they stand their ground and help to diffuse a bad situation. That would have been a really good argument to use with my parents back in the day. “Mom, I actually need to be there. Who else is going to stand their ground and influence the group to make good choices? See, it is my duty to help save them from themselves.” Truth is, back then I wasn’t quick enough to think of that argument nor did I always want the responsibility of trying to influence good choices. I was usually busy just trying to fit in and have some fun.
Jump forward to today’s passage in Titus 2. Do you see a similar theme? The first ten verses of Titus 2 are all about teaching biblical truths and modeling god-honoring, upright behavior in order to influence others. Titus 2:7-8, Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Mike Baker, Senior Pastor at Eastview, often reminds us – your greatest witness is the life you lead.
Think about this today. Are you being influenced by the company you keep OR are you using your relationships to influence others and bring them closer to Jesus? Are you along for the ride to get maximum enjoyment from life OR are you intentionally using your circumstances to be salt and light to this world? Jesus calls us to the latter.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20