I was sitting here this morning wondering to myself, "What affects my life?" Another question is "Who affects my life?" I know, I could ask those questions better but that is what I am thinking. What or who affects me?
The answer to that depends on the situation. I know that it shouldn't, but it is true. We often surround ourselves with people who think the same as we do. The reason? That way the answers we get to questions or the guidance we get in a certain situation will be what we want to hear. The last thing we want is for someone to tell us that we shouldn't go the direction we are going. After all, we can achieve or become who or what we want.
We often confuse ourselves with that statement. If we can dream it, we can do it. To a point, this is true. We see that at the Olympics. So many people with dreams seeing them come true. But then again, only the top 3 receive medals. The rest go home with the memories of what a great time it was and the realization that they didn't win. Do you actually think that anyone goes to the Olympics thinking, "It doesn't matter that I don't win. At least I get to go." Perhaps, but everyone dreams of that one event that they suddenly break through the barrier and are the underdog that wins the gold away from the superstar that was expected to win. But I digress.
I was thinking about daily life. The temptations that we have in our daily lives to do that which we know is not right. Those temptations to sin. Big sins, little sins, big lies, little white lies - doesn't matter, we are tempted to do them. (I can hear the argument that all sins are the same in God's eyes and you would be correct. But I am talking about the way we view the sins.) In those moments of temptations, who or what affects your decision? Do you surround yourself with the Word of God? Have you put on the whole armor of God? Or do you surround yourself with others who don't put the Word first? Are you listening to the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world? This truly makes a difference.
If it is a temptation you really like, you will listen to those who tell you to "go for it." Then you listen and do it. "It is only a little thing that no one will know about and doesn't change what goes on in the big scheme of things." Perhaps it is a really big temptation and yet you still want it. What happens when the Word of God steps up and says, "Nope. That is wrong." Do you listen?
My point is this: that with which you surround yourself will guide your decision. The person who is looking to purchase drugs will not stop and talk with a police officer to see if it is a good decision. The person looking to have an affair will not talk it over with the spouse or with someone who is content and happy in a marriage relationship. In both cases, that would really put a damper on the activity. No, you surround yourself with like minded people, hoping they will encourage you to continue down the path you are on.
This is why we find that the Lord tells us of the needs to worship, to be fed from Word and Sacrament. For the Spirit will guide our wayward hearts with the truth of the Lord's will. We may not like the guidance because it means we must give up our sinful behavior, but in the end, that is the best thing for us. Like a child who doesn't like listening to mom or dad, we don't always like to listen to the Word of God, but it is best for us.
Worship, Bible study, personal devotions, times of prayer, fellow Christians, people who are guided by the Spirit - I would encourage you to surround yourself in this way. It will help to guide you when you are facing those moments (which come often) when you are tempted. Instead of letting the sinful world guide you, let the Lord guide your decision. (And if you don't, remember to return to the Lord, confessing your sin, asking for forgiveness and guidance.)