Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11
Coming back from knee surgery, I’ve not been able to do everything I could do a year ago. So, I spent the first several weeks after surgery working out alone at my gym. I just couldn’t do everything everyone else did in class. I thought I was pushing myself pretty hard, but when I eventually got back to class, I realized I’d not been pushing myself as much as I thought. I was dreadfully out of shape. After one particular workout, as I was lying there gasping, I recognized this truth – I must work out with others to get where I want to go. I just don’t push myself hard enough on my own. I need community. I’m better when I’m working with others who’re headed in the same direction that I want to go.
This is an important principle in my recovery as well. There are plenty of people who can have a drink while watching a football game. I’m just not one of them and so, I don’t spend a lot of time in that environment. I may not like to admit it, but I’m influenced by those with whom I spend my time. So, last Friday night, I found myself at a Recovery Church meeting. Then, on Saturday morning, I met with my own accountability group. This morning, I’ll head off to jail in a few minutes to facilitate a recovery meeting/Bible study.
I’d love it if I had been made perfect when I turned to my faith and found recovery. I’m far from perfect though and I’m still influenced by those around me. So daily, I must make choices about with whom I spend my time. This was John’s message in today’s passage. In it, he described two influencers in the church – Gaius who walked in the truth and loved the church, and Diotrephes who loved only himself. John outlined the behaviors of each of these men and then instructed his audience to emulate Gaius.
We must put this same concept into practice in our own lives. Whether we like it or not, we’re influenced by those around us. We may not purposefully imitate others, but if we spend enough time in a bakery, eventually, we’re going to eat a donut. Our environment and our friends influence the direction of our lives, so we must choose wisely. We must identify where we want our lives to go and then we must spend time with those who’re going in the same direction. We can be better – or worse – depending on with whom we spend our time.