"So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel" (Numbers 25:3 NKJV).

Since early elementary school years, we have heard how one bad
 apple will bring ruin to the rest of the barrel of good apples.
God has been saying that for a long, long time in His Word.

"Walk as children of light, And have no fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11).

Our environment has a great impact on our lives. The influences
we subject ourselves to will help determine who we become. God
had warned Israel about the Canaanite gods before they settled in
 the conquered land. He knew if they began to intermarry and
 develop close friendships they would soon be trying to mix their religions with His worship. They didnít listen and Godís warnings
came to pass. Israel was joined to Baal.

This was brought home to me one day with my shoes. I keep old
tennis shoes on the porches to slip into when I work in the yard.
I have a pair in a storage room under my carport roof that I donít
use often. They are exposed to the environment for longer periods
of time. One day, I slipped my foot into one and, startled by a
strange soft object in the shoe, yanked my foot back out quickly.  The soft object turned out to be a frog! Iíve no idea how it got inside the room or how it ended up in the shoe, but the shoe was exposed and vulnerable because it had been stored in the damp dark room and subjected to its environment over a long period of time.

It occurred to me that we are like that shoe. If we linger too long in forbidden places and situations, we become vulnerable to that environment. We will pick up hitchhikers and parasites on our lives that will damage our relationship with God. We will become like what we are repeatedly exposed to.  James wrote ďÖDo you not
know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy
 of GodĒ (4:4 NKJV).  Friendship with the world divides our loyalty.

He went on to say in verse 5, "Or do you think the Scripture says in vain, ĎThe spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously.í?" God is jealous over us. "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 4:24 NKJV). He wants our undivided loyalty. We canít serve God and please the world at the same time. "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon"(Luke 16:13 NLKV). We canít mix God with Baal (the gods of this world). In fact, we canít mix God with anything! He doesnít dissolve nor blend, so He canít be mixed.

Sometimes my shoes are damp and filled with leaves if I have left
them outside without use for a while. Some interesting things have fallen out of my shoes left in that inappropriate shoe rack. Besides leaves, I have dumped out spiders and small crickets and other interesting items. I have learned to turn the shoes upside down and give them a good whack to dislodge anything that has found its
way into the dark crevices of the shoe caves.

If we find ourselves in a spiritually unhealthy environment, we need
 to be sure that we turn ourselves upside down with a good whack
 from the Word and dislodge any of Satan's "spiders" that have attached themselves to us, lest they become parasites and drain us
 of our spiritual strength and damage our relationship with God. If
 one of my feet had made contact with a venomous spider residing in my shoe, I could have had a serious problem! Like the spiders in
my shoe, Satan lurks and stalks us, just waiting and hoping for an opportunity to devour us. Prevention includes staying out of his territory where we will be most vulnerable.

Parents know only too well what can happen if their children choose
 the wrong friends. Their good apple will pick up rottenness from
any bad apples they associate with. God knows that about us too.

With that thought in mind, letís consider the results of tolerating certain attributes and attitudes. These would be helpful for parents to help create good criteria for their children; but they will be helpful for Christians as well who strive to master their attitudes to become more like Christ

If we live with criticism, we learn to condemn.

But if we live with longsuffering, we learn reconciliation.

If we live with covetousness, we learn to be selfish,

But if we live with generosity, we learn to share.

If we live with unforgiveness, we learn vengeance,

But if we live with forgiveness, we learn mercy.

If we live without commitment, we learn compromise,

But if we live with steadfastness, we learn faithfulness.

Add your own 'ifís and butís' that fit into your lifestyle. The list could be long. Are we then to avoid contact with the world? No. We canít. We are in the world but not of it. We have contacts that we canít avoid, but we donít have to participate in the activities we are exposed to. Jesus was a master at touching the lives of the untouchables but keeping Himself pure in their presence. His critics accused Him of being a 'Friend of sinners,' and of that He was guilty! He came to seek and to save that which was lost. It was His influence that changed people who touched His life; they didnít
 change Him or distract Him from His mission.

We donít have to compromise our Christian character to be effective witnesses to the world that needs to see us as lighted cities on a hill,
lit with and glowing from the Light of Christ.

Donít let your life have a frog in its shoe! Whack it out with
 the Word.

Delores Adams
Copyrighted. All rights reserved.

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