Throughout Scripture, Old Testament and New alike, there is a principle taught that encourages us to be aware of the effect we have in the lives of others. We do have an influence on those around us. It’s up to us whether that influence is positive, godly and encouraging, or if it’s negative, ungodly and discouraging.
Obviously, we are to avoid sin and sinful actions. We must continually fight in order to put down the works of the flesh. Even as children of God, the corrupt, sinful nature is constantly attempting to control our thoughts and actions. Add to that the fact that the desires of our sinful nature are in agreement with what Satan tempts us to do, and you have a difficult warfare indeed.
To avoid sin and sinful actions is a constant battle, to say the least. But for the most part, what is right and what is wrong is usually pretty clear to discern. We do face situations occasionally when the decision is not so clear but typically, we are able to “boil it down” and reach the proper conclusion about those situations.
What is sometimes just as difficult as the battle itself is considering how those around us perceive our actions. While we should not let other people’s opinions determine our actions, we should seriously consider the matter when someone has a legitimate concern about something we have done or intend to do. Since none of us have perfect knowledge in all things, some situations in life appear to fall into those “gray” areas. Two people might come to different conclusions about a situation and each appear to have legitimate reasons backing up that conclusion. It is situations like this where respect for our brother or sister leads us to prayerfully consider their point of view.
Perhaps a more common situation that we should be concerned about is when the “world” observes our actions and sees little or no difference. If the actions of the Christian is no different than the rest of the world, we bring a reproach upon the name of Christ. If we look like the world, we lose our influence. We are no longer salt and light and have lost our influence.
As Christians, it goes without saying… we identify ourselves as followers of Christ and others identify us as such. By God’s grace and the sustaining strength of the Holy Spirit, we might mature in our Christian walk to the point that we easily recognize most forms of evil and avoid it. But since we are disciples of Christ, ambassadors of His, and in a real sense, represent Him in the sight of the world around us, we should be ever so careful to avoid even what might be perceived as evil. If it is something that we can avoid without doing harm to someone else, we should not risk doing harm to another by going through with that action or deed. If you are an ambassador of Christ, your aim should be to look like Christ in every way, to the best of your ability: void of even the appearance of evil. We understand that we won’t reach sinless perfection in this life; all the more reason to regard not only the obvious, but also the appearance.
So we have at least three reasons to “shun the appearance of evil”… for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ; for the sake of the potential influence we could have in our own little world, and most importantly, for the sake of Christ Himself. — Pastor Matt Jordan