It seemed like a good idea at the time. We had spent the evening barhopping and partying with our classmates. Everyone was feeling “good” but now it was time to go back to our homes. Instead of listening to my own common sense by calling a taxi, all six of us crammed into a tiny Ford Cortina and began the journey to where I was staying. Heading down the road, we hit some black ice and spun, stopping just a few inches from a telephone pole. One choice almost led to tragic consequences.
I am in my mid-fifties now. Being this age, I have experienced many things, both positive and negative. In that time, I have made choices that have brought joy and tears to myself and others. Although the poor choices have lessened, they still do happen. In other words, I still have a lot to learn.
My mother is now in her mid-eighties. Whenever I visit her, we talk about her garden, how her health is and the angels who watch over her. As I leave, she always gives me the same advice… save money and stay away from bad people. I do not think she understands where I am in life but the advice is good none the less.
I think many of us struggle with remaining true to our faith and the teachings we find in the Bible. What makes it more difficult is if we surround ourselves with people who do not share the same values and for some, even look to draw us away from God to follow the ways of the world.
One of the most difficult things for anyone to face is peer pressure. Many of us have probably dealt with that in school or our workplace. Someone will suggest something to do and the group will agree, putting you in a hard spot. Do you follow the crowd or do you stand up for what you believe?
One person in the Bible who found himself compromising his values and allegiances was Jesus’ disciple Peter. We read about it at the end of Matthew 26. Jesus had been arrested and the disciples were milling around trying to find out what was happening. Three times Peter was approached and questioned about his ties to Jesus and three times he denied Jesus. He punctuates it in verse 74, by saying, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!”
Now we might think this was a rash response, a quick reaction under pressure but Peter’s denial of Jesus did not happen over a period of seconds or minutes, but over a period of hours. An hour had passed from the time the first person said, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean,” to the time Peter made his second denial. He had opportunity to get away or make a stand, but instead remained in that situation.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Paul’s words echo a simple truth… there is always a way out. Peter had numerous “outs” but chose to remain in that situation thereby putting himself at risk.
Peter’s situation and outcome reminds us of the fact that no person is safe from temptation except the one who flees from it. Peter was warned by Jesus of what was about to happen. Of all people, Peter should have avoided any place where he could be compromised. He definitely should have steered clear of all roosters. I would have said, “Are there any roosters here? Because if there are any, I am leaving.”
Throughout history, great men and women of God have been compromised by lowering their standards and allowing themselves to be drawn into sin. People like Solomon. Samson. David. They all found out the hard way. Are we better than they were? Are we more spiritual than they were? I do not think so.
If someone like Simon Peter was capable of falling, then surely we are. 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Peter was around people who were dragging him down spiritually. This is a reminder to ourselves in evaluating the company we keep.
Are you in a similar situation today? Have you entered into relationships where people are dragging you down? Maybe it is a romantic relationship. Maybe it is a close friendship. Are you finding yourself compromising your principles to fit in and not offend anyone? Perhaps you need to reconsider who your friends are. Perhaps you need to make some immediate changes. Is bad company corrupting you? Changing the direction of our lives can not only prevent corruption, but it can lead to blessings that far outweigh the pleasures of sin.