An ominous orange cloud of toxic gas is not exactly what you want to see outside your living room window. For thousands of people in Barcelona, this was their reality. Some chemicals were being transferred at a local factory. When the chemicals accidently mixed, it resulted in large plums of poisonous gas and three injuries. Local officials ordered 64,500 people to stay inside with all windows and doors closed. After about 4 hours, authorities allowed everyone to come out.
Poison is scary no matter what form it comes in. Toxic gas is especially terrifying. Obviously we would avoid this at all costs. Strangely, we aren’t always so quick to run from the spiritually toxic plumes. Scripture makes it clear that “Bad company corrupts good morals,” but too often we seem to ignore the first part of this verse and continue to let ourselves “be deceived” by these toxic influences (1 Corinthians 15:33). While there may be others example, spiritually toxic influences come in three forms.
- Friends. The people we hang around are pulling us in one of two directions: heaven or hell. There isn’t really any natural ground here. Even a “neutral” friend will weight us down and keep us from moving forward. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” A good friend can be one of the most life changing influences. However, in the same respect, iron also has the ability to dull iron. If we did an honest evaluation of our friends, would we say they are good for our spiritual health? If we can’t answer with a resounding “yes,” then we’re likely breathing in some toxic fumes.
- Media. It’s interesting how much pressure our society places on us to be up with the latest trends. We feel like we have to watch the super bowl halftime show, immodesty or not. We feel like we must watch the most popular movies, even with crass language and raunchy scenes. We feel like we won’t be cool if we don’t enjoy the current music, even when they push blatantly sinful agendas and ideas. If we can’t say that the media we engage in falls into the categories of “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellence, and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8), then why do we participate in them? Much of the media is a poisonous plume, and it’s getting larger and larger in our society. Sadly, people are flocking to the poisonous parts of this cloud!
- Self. Just think about all the times we’ve talked ourselves into a bad decision. We know what’s right, but for some reason don’t do it. When we don’t practice self-control and purity, the results are often devastating. When people are left to make their own decisions about morality, rarely has it ever ended in goodness, honesty, and purity. In Noah’s day, the people took themselves to a point to where “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). While friends and media have a strong pull on us, we are the ones who ultimately make the moral, or immoral, decision. We can put ourselves at a terrible disadvantage with the people we hang around and the media we expose ourselves to, but the poisonous temptations ultimately come from our own selfish and sinful desires (James 1:14-15).
Are we surrounding ourselves with spiritually toxic clouds? Are poisonous relationships permeating our lives? It can be so difficult to breathe easy when surrounded by toxic influences. It is so nice to be able to breathe easy, to have confidence that those around us are going to help us get to heaven. There is nothing more healthy and beneficial than good, pure, and loving relationships with other Christians. Let’s not only be good influences on others, but also surround ourselves with the same.