The Reading: Psalm 1:1-6
“Walks not … nor stands … nor sits” (v.1) RSV
“Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) says St Paulwhen writing to the Corinthian church. He was quoting a wise maxim of his day. But it is equally true today. We tend to be like a chameleon that changes it colour according to its surroundings. Unless we are very careful and strong we will become like the people with whom we mix.
Psalm 1 warns us against the process of spending more and more time with those whose lives we don’t want to copy. And yet by a process of osmosis their morals soak into us, and we end up joining them in the slide into destruction (v.6). Note the process as given to us in this Psalm: “Walk not … nor stand … nor sit …” (v.1). A casual walking conversation turns to a more permanent standing, and finally a sitting in deep involvement.
Note also the sorts of people who we need to beware of having for close friends: “the wicked … sinners … scoffers …” (v.1). It is so easy for us to become critical, cynical, and coarse. Instead we want to cultivate beautiful and robust character traits.
Now, of course, Jesus mixed with all sorts and conditions of people. He was known for spending time with “publicans and sinners”. The Pharisees thought this was terrible. But Jesus loved all people, and indeed had come especially for the ‘lost’. However, his strength was not drawn from such people. He drew his strength from communion with his heavenly Father and fellowship with like-minded people.
So when we mix with others let our aim be to bless them and to be an example of godliness.
Dear Lord, thank you that you love all people and mix with everyone. Help us to be so rooted in You that we can bless others rather than be tainted by them. Amen.
1. Who moved towards, and then lived among the people of Sodom?
Genesis 13:12-13 and 19:1, 15-16
2. Which of Paul’s helpers left him and why?
2 Timothy 4:10