Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
If “evil company corrupts good habits,” (1 Corinthians 15.33) what does righteous company do? Today’s message will focus on this question.
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12.1-4).
Before considering the primary question, we will note the “character” of the statement which we inverted to obtain today’s question. The statement, “Evil company corrupts good habits,” is best described as a proverb. While it is the general rule that evil company has a damaging effect on good habits, it is not an ironclad rule. Proverbs are not laws or rules; they are generalizations. Sometimes a child can be trained in the way he should go, but he later departs from it in spite of his raising (see Proverbs 22.6). In spite of the parents’ efforts to the contrary, sometimes the rod of correction will not drive foolishness out of the heart of their child (see Proverbs 22.15). From these examples, we can see that proverbs are just that; they are proverbs and not laws!
While it is true that evil company sometimes (or perhaps even frequently) corrupts good habits, such is not always the case. What it does mean is that those who intend to do right must be constantly on guard against corrupting influences. Paul said as much when he wrote, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10.12). Peter warned of the same danger when he spoke of believers who “…after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” (2 Peter 2.20-22).
Now we turn our attention back to Lot. Although he left his homeland with Abram, he was not always without guilt in his dealings (anymore than Abram). In spite of his association in Sodom with some of the most sinister ills that can be imagined, he allowed the former influence of Abraham, his friend and uncle, to remain operative in his life. Even the loss of his wife (see Luke 17.32), and the sins he committed with his daughters (Genesis 19.36), did not move him permanently off the path toward God. In the last inspired comment made about him, Peter said that God “…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).” (2 Peter 2.7-8.).
Now back to the question: What effect does righteous company have on good habits? With Lot (as with most of us), it is not a question of merely being with someone (regardless of whether they are termed as righteous or evil). Rather, it is the effect that we allow that association to have on us. There are dangers in associating with evil companions just as there are plusses in associating with righteous friends. However, the final result is up to us as we allow God to have His way in our lives!
1. For what sins was Sodom noted? What effect did the evils of Sodom have on Lot?
2. Given the fate of Lot’s wife, what effect would you think that such an event would have on Lot and his daughters and others who may have witnessed the event? Why are we to remember Lot’s wife?
3. From Peter’s description of Lot, how would you see his life unfolding in Sodom?
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