Proverbs 25:25-26

Like cold water to a weary person,
so is good news from a distant land.
Like a muddied spring and a polluted well,
so is a righteous person who gives way before the wicked.

Have you ever lost complete and total respect for someone in an instant? I have. Part of the problem is that we build people up too much in our minds to be perfect and righteous. But, you get to know and respect someone. You’ve spent some time building up your image of them in your mind. And then out of the blue they do something that causes you to raise your eyebrow. Maybe it’s a joke. Maybe a selfish decision. Regardless, you start to see that person differently. Then all of a sudden, you antennae go up and you start noticing other things.

Before long, you’ve completely written a person off in your mind. Their words no longer have any merit. Their advice has not weight.

This is how it is with a “righteous person who gives way before the wicked.” What that’s talking about is a righteous person who relinquishes their righteousness when they are in presence of a wicked person. They lower their standards for the irreligious around them. They stop being the person they’ve worked so hard to be and become more like the “wicked.”

And then they become like a muddied spring or a polluted well.

What we forget is that who we are in God is totally different from the world. We live in the world, and so it’s easy to think that we are more of the world than we are of God. But, when God calls us to follow Him, He calls us to a holy life. And what holy means is set apart. It means that we are set apart from the ways of this world. It means that we are set apart for God’s use.

What good is it to be set apart for something God has in mind if we are going to continually rejoin the ways of the wicked?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t spend time with the “unrighteous” (which I hate to even use that word). In fact, I greatly believe we should. What I’m saying is that when we are with them, we shouldn’t lay down what sets us apart.

And that’s a great temptation for many of us. We don’t want to sound weird. We want to fit in. We want to be a part of the crowd. But, we aren’t. We are going against the crowd. We’re going in a different direction. We are set apart for a different purpose. And being different in the midst of wickedness is what gives us a testimony in the first place.

Nobody’s going to listen to us because we look and talk exactly like everyone else in the world. People are going to listen to us and reach out to us because we are different than everything else they’ve seen. They’re going to be drawn to us because we’re unlike the others in the world.

Are you set apart?