It didn’t make sense. How could this have happened? How did a brand new bag of lemons go bad so quickly? Except for one moldy lemon I had forgotten to discard, they were all glistening and golden yellow. This mystery left me sour—how did they all turn from ripe to rotten in a week?
The good lemons had apparently acquired the invasive mold from the bad lemon. Mold is an aggressive fungus that contaminates everything within its reach in the blink of an eye. Hence, the miniscule mold of one rotten lemon was enough to corrupt all the healthy ones. As the old adage says, “One bad apple can spoil the barrel.” It must also apply to lemons!
It also applies to the company we keep as believers. No matter how much of a “good lemon” you are, you can easily acquire infectious sin from fellowshipping carelessly or continuously with “bad lemons.” The Bible is clear that even good Christians can be corrupted if they keep evil company. The apostle Paul admonished, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals”” (1 Cor. 15:33). The applicable Proverbs also warn against keeping bad company: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).
Placing yourself in the same sack as the ungodly ensures that their sin will creepily cling to you. As Solomon warned, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked” (Prov. 25:26). You can still associate with the wicked; after all, how else will you fish for men (Mark 1:17)? However, you must never let your guard down or keep only evil company. Even Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, but He never participated in their sin (Matt. 9:10; cf. John 8:29).
Abstain from the company of “bad lemons” just as David did when he declared, “I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:4-5). Don’t hold hands with the ungodly, “lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (Prov. 22:25). Remain diligent especially when striving to help others overcome sin, so that their sin doesn’t entice you: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). And surround yourself with other “good lemons” in God’s family, namely, those who are living exemplary lives of godliness: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).