When Family and Friends Are Part of the Problem
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
I waited tables on and off through college and though I always had good intentions, I found that working in a restaurant usually meant eating restaurant food. Though I didn’t plan it, weight gain was just a natural product of my environment. Now, I go to the gym every day. Just going to the gym doesn’t keep me in shape, but once I’m there, it would be weird if I didn’t work out. Simply being in that environment helps keep me in shape.
We may like to think we’re independent and that we make our own choices based on our belief system, but whether we like it or not, our behavior is profoundly influenced by our environment, mainly by the behavior of those around us. If we spend a lot of time in a library, we’re probably going to be quiet and read books. If we spend a lot of time in a bar, we’re probably going to drink, smoke, and play darts.
This was Paul’s warning in today’s passage. In it, he said we can have good beliefs and good intentions, but if our friends and family are corrupt, we will likely be corrupted. We’re responsible for our own decisions and we cannot blame our failures on others, but if we choose to spend time with those who are failing, we too will fail.
I see this all too often with the addict who does well in treatment but then relapses soon after going back home to the old using family and friends. He means well. He wants to stay sober, but he doesn’t stand a chance in that environment. Going back to the old life means going back to the old life. If nothing changes, nothing changes.
The problem is that environment can be terribly difficult to change. This isn’t as simple as not waiting tables or joining a gym. If your friends and family use drugs, then recovery may just mean turning your entire life upside down. The question is, How far will you go to change?
For many of us, this is too much. We want to be different, but the cost is just too high. Paul’s point is that we must be willing to do whatever it takes to make our behavior align with our beliefs. If saving our soul means cutting certain people or environments out of our lives, then that’s exactly what we must do. If we truly desire transformation, we must be willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard that may be.