Have you ever found yourself surrounded by people who bring out the worst in you? When you’re in their presence, everything you know you’re not supposed to do, you wind up doing.

As a kid, that might be staying out late, not calling home, hanging with the wrong crowd, experimenting with sex, drugs and stopping just this side of penitentiary behavior. As an adult, it could range from adultery to debauchery to greed, from personal abuse to immoral experimentation. But, either you rationalize your behavior or probably, those whom you’re hanging out with, rationalize it for you.

Bad behavior seemingly becomes some kind of badge of honor for those who do bad with you. It’s easy to find encouragement to sleep around, get high, steal, procrastinate, gossip and player hate. A crowd will gather in an instant to watch you pave your own way to hell.

For those of you who are now believers, do you remember the first voice you actually heard trying to tell you about the error of your ways? Do you remember whether it was mama, Big mama, bay brother, sister or just plain friend? Do you remember how important it was for you to explain your stupidity and rationalize your insanity? Do you remember how incensed you became when they wouldn’t accept your explanation
because they knew you knew better?

Remember in frustration, you just went back to those people whom you could count on to understand your madness because they were mad too. And then it happened. In the middle of what once was so good to you, the wordsof the people who loved you got louder and louder and the sex wasn’t as good anymore.

The high wasn’t fun anymore, the hate no longer satisfying. That special attraction had become an addiction and no matter how hard you tried, the thrill was gone, replaced by words that reminded you, there was a better way. You were better than the sin you hung around with.

I’m told that one of the first things a recovering addict must do is change the people he or she hangs around. Replace negative people with positive ones. Look for and find circumstances that reinforce the positive. Now isn’t that the way with God? He makes it clear that you cannot get low enough where He can’t find you.

There is no depth of spirit that He can’t reach. As a matter of fact, any church that’s a real church is full of sinners rather than saints; people who’ve licked the bottom of their own barrels and now live to testify that Jesus will indeed remove the splinters from your tongue also.

“And let us consider how we spur one another toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24. Take heed of whom you hang out with. Put some faith in the belief that a community of believers cannot be denied. People who love you are far more valuable to your soul than people who would otherwise use you.

The next time you find yourself in questionable circumstances, look around the room look and count those who have your best interest at heart. If you get to one (besides yourself), stay. If you’re the only one there, realize you’re outnumbered and get the heaven out of Dodge. All it takes is one time and Christ will accompany you from then on. Until then, may God bless and keep you always.

(Photo: James A. Washington)

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