Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Saviour While My Heart Is Tender"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 6:39b – Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? (NIV)
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (NIV)
"Sally has to go!" lamented the farmer. "It's because of her bad influence on the other cows. She's the dominant cow in the herd; and that's bad." This farmer, in the video that I watched, had seen enough of Sally's bad influence on his Highland cattle herd.
Cattle instinctively follow the dominant ones in the herd. That's what made Sally a problem. Whenever she broke through the fence, the entire herd followed. When the farmer called his herd, Sally went the opposite way; the rest followed her instead of him. Sally was anxious and skittish, making other cows nervous. The farmer was concerned that future calves would absorb this anxiety, and he'd end up with an unmanageable, neurotic herd.
"Sally's the leader," said the farmer. "But she's not a real leader. If she was, she'd listen to me. But she won't. Sally won't trust me. When I approach her, she backs up, as if paranoid of me. I've given her long enough; she's not going to change. So, we're shipping her to the butcher. We hate to get rid of Sally. But we must — for the sake of the herd."
Sally's bad traits provide us some noteworthy lessons — like this universal principle:
Galatians 5:9 – It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. (MSG)
People also tend to follow the more dominant personalities in their group, be that a family, peer group, organization, or nation. The most influential ones may not necessarily be good leaders and models. Like Sally, they may sway the group toward their own propensities, such as their anxieties, their atheistic leanings, or politicized agendas.
From God's perspective, leaders aren't truly leaders if they don't listen to Him. They'll go wherever they want by their own authority; the rest will follow them instead of Him. When the stronger voices in a group distrust God, the rest are disinclined to trust God.
No wonder Paul warned Christians, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." (2 Corinthians 6:14a NIV). In other words, don't let their energy pull you into their game. Don't let the power of their influence make you shrink back from your calm trust in God. Don't even react. Don't grab the rope that they throw you. Don't get into a tug-of-war conflict. You won't win. But don't let it silence you either — as happened in Jesus's day:
John 7:13 – But no one would say anything publicly about [Jesus] for fear of the leaders. (NIV 2011)
Unlike cattle, God's people can rise above the pull of dominating voices. To paraphrase 2 Peter 1:3-8, God's divine power has given us everything we need to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. Instead, we can be a counter-influence by making every effort to add godly character qualities to our life. That's our proactive calling!
Prayer: Lord, may the unrelenting lure of bad influences prod us to reinforce our faith with the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love, to keep us productive as effective lights in the darkness. Amen.