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 in 2015, this was their reality. Some chemicals were being transferred to a local factory. When the chemicals accidentally 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. Thankfully, 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. 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). Spiritually toxic influences come in at least 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 weigh us down and keep us from moving forward. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” 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? f we can’t answer with a resounding “yes,” then it could be we’re exposing ourselves to spiritually 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. Have you ever known someone who just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way? Sometimes we can be our own worse enemy. At times we bash and talk down to ourselves. We become our own worst critics. At other times we talk ourselves into a bad decision. We reason our way into a poor choice. When people are left to make their own decisions about morality, rarely has it ended in goodness, honesty, and purity. Let’s not be an enemy to ourselves. Let’s forgive ourselves, encourage ourselves, and practice self-control.
Are we surrounding ourselves with spiritually toxic clouds? Are poisonous relationships permeating our lives? Imagine what a breath of fresh air it would be to remove the toxicity around us. Let’s not only be good influences on others but also surround ourselves with the same.