1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
In seventh grade, my science teacher, while kind, soft-spoken, and knowledgeable, is a poor disciplinarian.
It does not take long for the class clowns and the talkative children to realize this. All around me, I see students of stellar behavior in other classes devolve into chattering, note-passing, spitball-launching, downright disrespectful hooligans.
I am brought up to have respect for my elders, especially my teachers. I follow the rules, do my work quietly and efficiently, and listen carefully to instructions.
At first, I comport myself appropriately. Within two weeks, I am clinging, white-knuckled, to the remnant of good conduct. Feeling my grasp slipping. Unable to concentrate due to the chaos around me.
I give in. Become part of the madness.
Giggling. Chatting. Scribbling notes not on the lecture, but to pass to friends.
Paying little or no attention to this sweet, patient teacher.
Sinking. Drifting down to the level of the lowest common denominator.
My once good habits corrupted beyond recognition.
Because, that is what often happens when we hang with the wrong crowd. Ignore our parents' admonition that we will be judged by the company we keep.
Which is exactly how the Scribes and Pharisees perceive Jesus. How they judge Him.
Why does he eat with tax collectors? Why does he mingle with sinner? Why does he allow this raggedy band of followers to eat with unclean hands?
But, unlike us, the Lord doesn't stoop to the level of the bad company surrounding Him.
To the contrary!
His goodness, His mercy, His teachings forgive, restore, and lift up those around Him.
Place them firmly on the path to repentance.
And they turn . . .
Cleansed and renewed.
Were you ever judged by the company you kept? Do you judge others that way?
Will you pray with me?
Give us the strength, Father, not to be swayed or influenced by persons whose morals are less than they should be. Let our focus be ever on You and what You expect from us. May we, by our prayers and example, lift up those around us and help set their feet on Your solid ground. Amen.
Psalms 97, 99 or 115
1 Corinthians 15:(29) 30-41