“But, Mom, everyone is doing it.” I don’t know how many times I tried to use this excuse to try to convince to convince her that what I was asking to do was what everyone else was doing. Of course, her response was invariably, “If they jumped off a bridge, would that, too?” We all want to be like everyone else in our group or like the ones we idolize.
How often do we see children of dysfunctional families repeat that dysfunction in their own families? Children of substance abusers are much more apt to become substance abusers. Children whose parents read stories to them as infants, grow up to be better readers and actually enjoy reading. Yet Proverbs tells us to Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
We need to be better examples and to spend more time with better examples. Paul told the Corinthians to Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1) When Jesus washed the feet , of his disciples, He told them I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 15:13)
If we spend a lot of time with people who never agree and always argue, guess what we’re going to. This can sometimes be an issue with me. My wife has to remind me, “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” If you’re with people who constantly worry and complain about each and every trial that comes their way, you will find yourself looking at your own trial with worry and complaining. My wife again came up with a good answer: “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” So who should we avoid? According to Paul, I am writing to you to tell you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, an idolater, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (I Corinthians 5:11) Later on in the same letter, Paul notes, Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
I Corinthians 6:14 These are not suggestions or recommendations.
So, are we supposed to always avoid the unsaved and worldly sinners? What did Jesus do? Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (Mathew 9:10) And to whom should we spread the Gospel? When Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Spend time with sinners to set an example of Jesus shining and all-en encompassing love and mercy. They need to see your good example and how you got to be that example. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. I Peter 2:12)
So be that friend, that co-worker, that neighbor, that family member who sees God in you.