Today’s Reading: 2 Peter 3
A pastor was walking down a row of fine old Victorian homes in his neighborhood on a cold day when he spotted a young boy on the front porch of one of those homes. The old-fashioned doorbell was set high in the door, and the little fellow was too short to ring it despite his leaping attempts. Feeling sorry for the youngster, the pastor stepped up onto the porch and vigorously rang the bell for him. “And now what, young man?” inquired the minister. “Now,” exclaimed the boy, “we run like crazy!”
When I was a kid, we used to call that “ring and run.”
We have to be careful who we hang out with because their issues may become our issues. What that pastor thought was just a kind deed for a little boy was actually making him an accessory to his mischief.
In today’s chapter, Peter is appealing for us to grow but also connecting our growth to whom we are in a relationship with:
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
One of the hardest decisions you will face in life is choosing whether to walk away or to try harder in a relationship. In verse 17, Peter is giving the green light for walking away, so these new Christians don’t fall from their own steadfastness. The Contemporary English Version says, “Don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.” You find firm ground and footing in your Christian life. If there is one thing that can knock you off your consistency, it is a poor relationship. Peter says unprincipled men can stunt your growth. That’s why Peter warns about the negative influence of a relationship.
I remember this illustration from my youth group when I was growing up. Our youth pastor put someone on top of a chair and someone down below him. He asked us, “Which is easier, for the person on the chair to pull the other up or for the person on the ground to pull him down?” The answer is easy. It is much easier for the person in the lower position to pull down the other than the person in the high position to pull the lower person up to where he is.
This is exactly what Peter is saying. You have those very same people in verse 17. And Peter is saying that we can lose our steadfastness if we don’t let go of the unprincipled people in our lives because they will pull us down.
There’s an old but powerful visual illustration to this idea that says, “If you drop a white glove into the mud, the glove will get muddy, but the mud will never get glovey.”
Peter wants us to stay white and pure. As George Washington once wrote, “Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.” Or consider William Gladstone’s observation, “Choose wisely your companions, for a young man’s companions, more than his food or clothes, his home or his parents, make him what he is.”
A relationship with two opposite people—one wanting to grow in God and the other living for themselves—is the recipe for two people living for themselves. There is an asterisk to this principle, which is given to us in 1 Corinthians 7, and which I have to make clear. This is not an approval for a divorce if one of the spouses is not a Christian. In fact, Paul is really clear that if you have a believer and an unbeliever married, God says He will let the believer be the principal influencer in that relationship and even protect the children. But when it comes to friendships, be careful and understand that the unprincipled lives of others can have an adverse effect on you.
Have you ever thought about all the wonderful things you can do with apples? Of course, you can just eat them plain! But you can make juice, sauce, butter, pies . . . And if you keep them in a cool place, they can stay fresh for a month or more. But one thing can reverse the longevity of fresh apples—a rotten apple. All it takes is for one rotten apple to touch a fresh apple, and that fresh apple will turn rotten too. And if you have a bushel of apples, imagine how quickly the rot can spread? Before you know it, the entire basket of apples will be rotten—just because it started with that one rotten apple in there.
You heard the statement, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch”?
Peter is really warning us about having bad apples in our circle of friends, or should I say, basket of friends.