What We Allow In by Randy Rowley 10/20/14 ©


On a hot day in early June, two friends and I launched my bass boat on Lake Decker for a morning of bass fishing.  Soon after arriving at the hot water discharge, I caught a 15-inch-long bass on a moss back shiner colored Rapala Clackin’ Rap lipless crankbait.

As he only weighed about a pound and a half, I swung him into my boat with my rod instead of netting him.  I then lipped him (grabbed his lip with my thumb and index finger) with my right hand, which was not my norm, as I usually lip bass with my left hand and use my right hand to remove the lure.

I wasn’t able to unhook him with my left hand, so I reached down and grabbed a pair of pliers and then grasped the hook with the pliers.

Then things went wrong.  The bass shook its head hard, and I lost my grip on him.  As he fell, one of the hooks embedded itself in my right thumb, while another hook caught me in my right index finger.  The bass was dangling from my hand, still shaking his head.  Every shake drove the hooks further into my flesh.  I put the bass on the floor of my boat and, with considerable effort, freed the lure from his mouth.  I then returned him to the water and went to work on my hand.

I pulled the hook out of my thumb, but the hook stuck in my finger was buried past the barb.  I couldn’t budge it.  I then tried to cut it out with my knife, but it was too dull.  I borrowed Burl Fulenwider’s knife and got the same results, and Dustin Rhodes didn’t have one for me to borrow.  I then used a pair of ring pliers to remove the hook from the lure, which was not easy to do with my left/off-hand.

Now, all that I had sticking out from my finger was the treble hook.  As I needed that finger to cast my rod and work the reel, I was in a quandary.  Rather than not fish for the rest of the morning, I decided to cut the barb as close as I could to my finger with a pair of cutting pliers.

That also proved to be a big mistake.  I left about ¼” of the hook outside of my finger, figuring that was enough for a doctor to grab with a pair of surgical pliers.  But to my chagrin, I watched the remainder of the hook work its way inside my finger over the next several hours.  My dilemma was finally resolved in a minor ER seven hours after I hooked myself.  The doctor had to cut out what my poor decision had allowed to enter my finger.

A near-universal experience of humanity is we have friends.  Some of us have a lot of friends, but none are particularly close.  Others don’t have many friends, but the few friends that they have are tight-knit.  Most of us fall in between those two extremes.

More than just liking and sharing our Facebook posts, friends are people with whom we can share our sorrows, dreams, failures, and victories.  True friends are with us through thick and thin.  They encourage us, challenge us, and reprove us when necessary.  We don’t have to tell them our hunting, fishing, and shooting stories, as they were there with us.

Especially we men tend to develop friendships with other men who like to do what we like to do.  Our friends hunt, fish, and shoot with us.  Some even play sports and serve others with us.  For example, FCS was founded in 1988 because a group of men went on a Mouflon and Corsican sheep hunt, had a great time and decided to form a club that focused on providing similar opportunities.

We men also tend to develop friendships with other men who think the way that we do.  Sure, we’ve got acquaintances that see the world differently, but we don’t call them the honored title of “friend.”  Why have friends who argue with what you say?

Friends are essential for our spiritual and mental health.  They not only make life more enjoyable, but they also make it worth living.  But what makes a friend a true friend is how they treat you when your world collapses.  Fairweather friends either shun you or run away, but a true friend gets down in the mud with you and helps pull you out.

We all know (or at least have read stories or heard about) people whose sins became very public.  In most cases, such moral failures didn’t just happen out of the blue but instead took a long time to develop.

What is the primary reason that people experience moral failure?  Some would answer lust for power and riches.  Others would say addictions.  But I’m convinced that a person’s moral failures usually start with the people they allow into their lives and eventually call friends.  They enable people to gain a foothold in their lives who they know should never have been there in the first place.

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Just as Christ-like friends can help sharpen us to become more like Christ, worldly friends can help sharpen us to be more like the ruler of this world – Satan.  2 Peter 3:17 (HCSB) says, “Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability.”

Just as we Christians should desire the lost to come into God’s kingdom, the lawless desire to take us away from God’s light and for us to become more like them.  After all, we’re no fun when we don’t want to do the things they want to do.

Are people who are a bad influence the only reason a person fails morally?  Of course not.  When we sin, it’s because we chose to do so.  We wanted to do it and did.

Do people who have upright people in their lives still fall into sin?  Of course, they do.  We have a sin nature.  All of us have sinned and will continue to do so.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But as we grow as Christians, we will sin less frequently and exchange sin with service.  If we’re growing, the things that once appealed to us will eventually become unappealing.

Knowing that, why do we allow the ungodly into our lives, call them our friends, and think that we can be immune from their influence?  It’s like wrestling with a skunk and expecting to come out of it smelling fine.  It doesn’t work.

What starts as a betting pot with our fishing buddies on who will catch the biggest fish on a particular weekend leads to a gambling addiction.  What begins as trips to a “gentlemen’s club” after a round of golf with our foursome leads to a marriage-killing affair.  What starts as a few happy hours with co-workers after work turns into alcoholism.  When we run with people who live life on the edge, why are we surprised when we fall off the cliff?

Often a person fails morally because they have ungodly friends and isolate themselves from godly friends.  People who develop friendships with people who have no business in their lives simultaneously push away brothers and sisters who could have spotted the oncoming 18-wheeler and helped them avoid it.

Just as leaving that fishhook in my finger could have resulted in infection or worse, becoming friends with ungodly people can lead to dire consequences.

The hook

Categories : Devotionals

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