Have you ever been in a confined place with someone who was coughing or sneezing without concern about others around them? This happens frequently in elevators, waiting rooms, lobbies, offices, on airplanes, and in a variety of other environments. What do you feel when this happens? What is your instinctive reaction?
If you're like me, and I suspect you are, you feel uncomfortable. You want to distance yourself from the germs that are being projected into your world. While you may have compassion on the suffering person, you don't want to catch whatever it is that they have. You go into protective mode. You may politely and carefully withdraw a bit from the person. You probably hold your breath for a moment or two. And you likely look forward to removing yourself from the environment as soon as possible. These things are important and wise to do.
Let's apply the same wisdom to another area of life. As surely as physical viruses can be caught from others, bad attitudes can be caught too. The Bible teaches us that bad attitudes are contagious:
Don't hang out with angry people; don't keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious –– don't get infected. — Proverbs 22:24, 25 (Msg)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” — 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NAS)
The next time you're around someone who is “coughing and sneezing” bad attitudes; negativity, gossip, anger, fear, worry, and any other spiritual and emotional virus:
- Recognize it. Be alert to potential spiritual and emotional germs around you.
- Respond to it. If you have a relationship with the person, give them some feedback about what you’re seeing or hearing from them.
- Refuse to receive it. Make a conscious decision that you're not going to be infected by the person.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Get away from an infected person or environment as soon as you can.
- Refresh right attitudes after the exposure. After removing yourself, recheck and refresh right attitudes in your heart. Make sure no viral residue remains in you.
Don't let someone else's spiritual and emotinal germs get into your system. Avoid infection!