Very few of us really enjoy housework, or cleaning of any kind, for that matter. The task usually goes to the bottom of our to-do list until we can’t handle the crud in the bathroom sink, or the dining room floor tile looks like a Texas windstorm blew in. Nevertheless, we collect cleaning supplies that assist us with the chore. One of those pieces is a sponge.
Sponges are great for scrubbing and wiping away dirt. When we dip them in cleaning solution, it soaks up the moisture and works wonders on the nastiest of surfaces. Eventually, though, it will soak in the dirt and become a soggy mess. To continue, we’re required to squeeze out the extra, dirty moisture and begin again.
Our lives are very much like that sponge. As we go through life, we will soak in many things, good and bad. People’s opinions, national news, social media posts, doctor’s reports, and education all play a part in shaping our lives. If it’s something good and wholesome, our lives will be blessed when we soak it in. But if it’s negative and not backed by God’s Word, we suffer. It’s even more impacting when we retain it. It effects our emotions, decisions, and peace of mind. It all comes down to the “company” we keep.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV).
What we soak in and retain doesn’t just affect us, however. It affects everyone around us at one time or another. How does this happen? It happens when we’re squeezed. When pressure—or stress—is put on us, what’s in us comes out for all to see and hear. It may manifest when we experience something as simple as a traffic jam, or as frustrating as an argument with our spouse. Each time, our response reveals what’s inside of us.
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-46, NKJV).
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:15-20, NKJV).
Who or what we keep company with will affect who we are, and who we are is how we will respond to life’s pressures. For instance, if all we are soaking in is violent movie and news content, then when someone hurts us, we will respond with negative, aggressive emotions. But if we are filled with God’s love and the fruit of the Spirit, we will respond with self-control and kindness. Instead of lashing out, we will suppress the flow of angry words that could come, and choose to speak the peace that’s already in us.
If we’re dissatisfied with the way we’re responding to life’s challenging situations, we need to take a closer look at what we’re soaking up. We need to protect ourselves from bad solutions that influence who we are. It’s not as complicated as hiring a bodyguard and living in a bunker in the Appalachians. It’s as simple as choosing what we allow or disallow. We can choose to turn off negative radio and television, take our eyes off ungodly reading material, and stay away from people who only influence us negatively. It’s also possible to intentionally soak up so much good that there’s no room for the bad. We can proactively surround ourselves with godly people, encouraging news, and positive viewing. Most importantly we can immerse ourselves with the solution of God’s presence, prayer, and godly company. His influence is the greatest positive disinfectant any sponge could soak up!