Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." 1 CORINTHIANS 15:33
One of my favorite object lessons in the sixth-grade Sunday School class I taught for many years was the "bad apples" demonstration. During a class at the beginning of the year, I brought some apples with me into the room—a beautiful, shiny red one that I called a "good apple" and a couple of others that looked nice but had at least one bruise.
"These two apples with the bruises represent a couple of buddies you really shouldn't spend time with in junior high," I would say. "They have a dark side to them—a compromised area of their lives. This good apple represents you, a nice Christian teenager but one who doesn't see any problem with bruised apples. ‘These are my buddies,' the good apple says.
"So these three apples are going to hang out together for a few months. We'll check on them at the end of the year and see what happens." Then I would put the apples together in a plastic bag and place them in the closet. Several of the students would become curious over the next few months about what had happened to our little "buddies," but I wouldn't return the bag until the last class of the year. Then I'd read the verse we're focusing on today—about bad company and its impact on good morals.
It never failed, of course. Nine months of hang time always took a toll on the good apple. The identity of all three apples had long been lost. All that was left was sort of a gross, discolored, mushy apple soup.
The buddies our children spend time with will inevitably influence them, either for good or for bad. That's why parents need to be fruit inspectors, helping their kids spot the bad apples and encouraging their kids to build friendships with the good ones.
Do your children have some bad buddies? Discuss how you can take steps to wean them away from the wrong crowd and encourage them to spend time with some "good apples."
Ask for discernment to spot problems ahead of time and for wisdom and courage to go about correcting them.