As you might’ve seen in the news this morning and the past week, the air quality and visibility in the northeastern U.S. and even the mid-Atlantic (as I can confirm firsthand looking out the window as I write this) is about as bad as I’ve ever seen it. So bad that the weatherman on one of the local news stations tweeted, “I don’t say this often, but it’s a good idea to stay indoors tomorrow or at least limit time outdoors. not a good idea to workout outside.”
But why is this happening? Is it something we Americans did which was unwise or wrong?
Rather, the unbelievable haze and poor air quality is here because of our neighbor to the north, Canada. Namely, their wildfires.
And when I looked out the window this morning, it immediately hit me what a great illustration this is of sin in general and emotional/relational dysfunction in specific.
It’s CONTAGIOUS. Quite literally… it spreads from an infected person and takes up residence in the lives of the unsuspecting and unprotected. Just like the smoke and haze and bad air quality of Canada’s wildfires have “spread” and “infected” and (literally) taken up residence in the U.S.
And now WE have to deal with the negative consequences of THEIR wildfires.
But here’s the thing: it would have been impossible to prevent this from happening, i.e., there’s no way to “block” smoke and haze from drifting in the air.
This analogy keeps holding true because, as I’m sure you’ve experienced firsthand throughout your life, to be around people is to risk having their dysfunction or other issue(s) – and even sins – seep into OUR life. (But it’s worth it, it’s a risk worth taking… if we wear the God-given, Bible-provided protection, more on this in a future post.)
Did you know that the Bible addresses this directly and crystal-clearly? [Yep, it was written thousands of years ago, yet proves anew each day that it is indeed like no other book, that it is indeed “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and therefore ever-applicable to our lives and situations.]
I’ll write a much more in-depth post about this very important and powerful principle but for now will share a few great verses with you which not only state the problem but (as always) also the solution.
- “… Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
- “Leave the presence of a fool, or YOU will not discern words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:7, emphasis added)
- “Keep deception and lies far from me…” (Proverbs 30:8)
In fact, it’s so crucial to ongoing spiritual health to “be on the alert” (1 Peter 5:8) and “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20, see the video below for a kid-friendly musical rendering I just found online) that even when doing something so sound and sanctified and spiritually mature as showing mercy to others, if they’re the very “infected/contagious” type, Jude 23 goes so far as to command us to have mercy “with fear, hating even the garment polluted [i.e., infected!] by the flesh.”
But my favorite verse on this particular principle is how I’ll end this post, because it’s so clear, so self-explanatory that no elaboration is needed, it literally says it all: issue and solution and goes even a step further and also gives the reason for the provided solution (much more on all of this in that future post but for now I’ll just say that while this verse references unrighteous anger, the principle applies to any sin, be it jealousy/envy, selfishness, taking the Lord’s name in vain and other foul language, etc.):
- “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, LEST YOU LEARN HIS WAYS, and FIND A SNARE for YOURSELF.” (Proverbs 22:24-25, emphasis added)
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