This year our pastor is doing a series on how to build the church. Each month he breaks it down even further-one month he talked about how to build a family. Today's message was about manners, and the important role manners play in building a church.
He used the scripture from 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners." I am used to hearing this verse from another version that goes more along these lines, "Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character."
He used that passage, and then (in reference to manners), he made the statement: "If you can be a good leader, lead them out of it. If you can't, get out of there." That statement he made really spoke to me. One of the questions I hear again and again about Christianity is "Jesus hung out with the crooks, so why can't I?" Or worded a different way, "How can I help the people that hang out in bars if I'm not willing to go in there with them?"
The answer lies in his statement-if you are a leader (not by title, but by personality), and you have the ability to compel a person to see Christ in you, then it will be easier for you to "hang out with sinners". If you are not a leader (again by nature-not by title), then being in that negative environment will quickly corrupt you. You need to learn to recognize the signs of when you are picking up the bad habits of those you are witnessing to, so you know when you need to draw closer to him, and to flee the negative situation before it further corrupts you (not just manners-but anything).
I am blogging this because it spoke to me, but for anyone who might be reading this that thinks I am trying to say it's okay to go in bars-that is not at all what I am saying. There is a time to witness, but you must also have a time to be fed. The Bible also says to flee the very appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22)-and I feel hanging out in bars fits into this category. Learn to recognize when negativity is starting to affect you-and when it does-get into your prayer closet, and make an effort to draw closer to Him.