There are all sorts of contagions in the air these days. That why things like vitamin C, zinc supplements, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer have become common in our world. My bet is you've used one or more of those things in the last 24 hours; I know I have.
But there are worst things we can spread than the common cold. I've got the sniffles right now, in fact, but I'm managing to keep on plugging away with the help of a box of tissues and a little over-the-counter medication.
Unfortunately, someone else will probably end up catching this little cold from me. But I've spread worse things undoubtedly. You have, too. Peter did, too.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch,
I withstood him to his face,
because he was to be blamed;
for before certain men came from James,
he would eat with the Gentiles;
but when they came,
he withdrew and separated himself,
fearing those who were of the circumcision.
And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him,
so that even Barnabas was carried away with hypocrisy.
The bottom line of the passage I read this morning is that Peter was living under the grace of God and doing the gracious thing, until some people came along whom he felt the need to impress. Then he changed his tune and his behavior; suddenly Peter was acting like a hypocrite, throwing out the truth in order to win the favor of these he esteemed. But not only did Peter behave badly; others followed suit.
His sin was contagious.
Even Barnabas -- good-natured, positive, godly, and kindhearted Barnabas -- followed Peter's lead and began to act contrary to what he knew to be right. I think we call that peer pressure in our modern world, but Paul calls it leading others into sin.
Have I been guilty? Have you? Probably so, on both counts. We need to be careful. Little eyes (and bigger eyes) are watching. And even godly folks (like Barnabas) can get caught up in our misbehavior and follow suit. Consider the following highly contagious sins and see if you've been guilty of passing any of them along:
Oh my, I must stop before the condemnation becomes too great! I've been guilty of most of those at some time or other, and I can even attest that at times I could have named the people I led along the path of destruction with me.
- Complaining against authority
- Murmuring about the way things are
- Yelling (in anger; not at ballgames)
- Criticizing the way things have been done
- Talking ill of your spouse, boss, children, mother-in-law
- Acting arrogantly
Today I feel challenged not only to sneeze into my sleeve instead of my hand (I'm still working on that one!), throw away my tissues immediately after using them, and cover my mouth if I cough, but also to keep from spreading any ill behavior. I want to keep fastidious watch over my tongue, speak words of grace instead of criticism, and resist the temptation to "pass on" interesting information. In fact, since our behavior is obviously so contagious, I'm going to try to speak positive words, encouraging words and gracious words. I'm going to speak well of others, treat folks with respect, and serve the Lord with gladness. Tall order, I know, but if attitudes, words, and behaviors are catching, let's at least give them something worth sharing!
A little news:
By the way, I've added PayPal capabilities to my web site today. You can now purchase my books or donate to my ministry via PayPal, using your PayPal account or a credit card. You do have to have a PayPal account, but it's quick and easy to set up.
If you choose to donate to the ministry, you'll need to know a couple of things. I do not have a non-profit license yet. Maybe one day. But the truth is this ministry is truly NON profit. I haven't made a dime in profit from any of my books or speaking engagements. Maybe one day I will make enough to actually contribute to our household expenses, but not yet. I'm still reinvesting every dime at this time. So, you won't be able to "write off" your donation.
Secondly, I want you to know that if you do contribute a donation, every dime does indeed go back into ministry. It will be used to supply books and other materials to those who cannot afford them, ship materials in similar situations, or provide for other operational costs that keep this ministry afloat. And if you do decide to make a donation, know that I am grateful.
I encourage you to check out my books under the By Kay tab. Thanks for supporting the ministry!