Diet Devotional 23
2 Cor. 7:1 - "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
The verses prior to this one are talking about people, not just habits or things that contaminate us. They encourage us not to be "unequally yoked" with unbelievers. The illustration refers to two oxen being bound together by a yoke as they plow the field. Much like the picture Paul paints, we put ourselves in situations where we are bound together with other people - work, spouses, friends, kids. The principle in the Old Testament that Paul is referring to here is the basic idea that "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch." It's the idea that we must be careful who we spend our time with, because their beliefs will either reinforce our own, or they will change ours. Agreeing to disagree is not as easy as it sounds. One person is eventually swayed.
I remember a time in my life when I had to drop all of my friends. At some point, I looked at their influence on me and decided it was taking me somewhere I didn't want to end up. Talk about a shocker, this event changed my perspective of people forever. I discovered that not only was it healthy for me to make wise decisions for myself, but also that people would adapt to whatever definitions I put on the relationship. Since then, I have learned that such drastic measures are rarely necessary. There seems to be a way in every relationship to get out from under the yoke. I have discovered new ways to make balanced decisions about how I spend my time and with whom. We can redefine our activities with people in order to stop contaminating our bodies and spirits. What about that person at work that makes you so angry that you choose a McDonald's lunch to cope? How about that family member who, after you talk to them on the phone, inspires you to go get a chocolate milkshake? Those relationships can be redefined to get out from under the yoke. We just have to figure out how. Maybe taking time off from talking, staying busier than normal, making a new friend, spending more quality time with our kids, or giving an angry person some space.
Today's perfect example is my terrible habit of watching movies with my husband late into the night. We usually start a flick about 9:30 or 10pm, because things don't wind down around here until that time. Nevertheless, by 10:30, I am sure to be craving some cookies or ice cream. And since I don't get to bed before midnight, I'm exhausted in the mornings. It's our tradition. How can I get out from under that yoke? I'm not sure just yet, but I know it doesn't mean divorcing him. I just need to redefine the nature of our relationship in the evenings. I'm going to give it some thought today. Perhaps I can pray for freedom from the guilt that tells me I shouldn't change that relationship, get out from under the yoke of the bad habit, and stop contaminating my body with sweets. Instead, I'm going to aim for perfecting holiness, believing that my spouse will eventually adapt to whatever new habit we establish.