The 3-C's of "Turning Away"
What is it you actually walk away from? In clothing stores, I find it easy to turn away from things which have a very low cut, loud prints, or some type of price tag which is out of this world. In food stores, I find it easy to turn away from things I cannot identify displayed in the meat case, or pickled animal parts in jars on shelves. In conversations this time of year, I find it easy to turn away from all those controversial ones about who to elect as our next leader in our nation. Some things are easier to walk away from while others are a little more challenging - like the candy at the checkout counter or the plate of freshly baked cookies someone brings into work to share. What we choose to walk away from may be the very thing which could take us down a path we don't really want to pursue!
Walk away from the evil things in the world—just leave them behind, and do what is right, and always seek peace and pursue it. (I Peter 3:11 VOICE)
Scripture is clear - we are to walk away from the evil things in this world. This would include any unwholesome conduct, conversation, or company. Conduct is really behavior - when we turn away from bad behavior, we are less likely to become engaged in the same behavior. For example, when I was raising my kids, I would give them a little time away from each other in order to go through a "cooling down" period when they were behaving poorly toward one another. It usually worked because they really didn't want to be alone in their rooms. That solitude gave them a moment to consider their behavior. Often, when we are considering a course of behavior we might be enticed to pursue, we will have this niggling inside which is warning us about that particular course of conduct. It isn't quite right and we know it. When we are willing to walk away from it - even when it seems enticing to us - we often find we look back upon that choice without any regret!
Conversation is another area where we often need to just "walk away" from the whole unwholesome path it is taking. If we examine scripture, we are warned to avoid the kind of conversations which will lead us down roads where we are complaining, arguing, antagonizing, or even ridiculing another. It is probably one of the hardest things to avoid gossip, but scripture clearly tells us not to engage in this manner of conversational "sabotage" of another person's character. Really, when we consider "walking away" from conversations we are not going to benefit from, or which will certainly not benefit another, it makes sense. There is no positive outcome from these conversations - they just end up creating a higher degree of dissatisfaction over whatever we were complaining about, get us riled up so we are likely to take pretty unwholesome action, or leave someone else exposed in the process.
Company is the third area where we might find ourselves faced with "companions" who are just not that committed to the same values we are, or are kind of deviant in their conduct. When we choose to walk away from these interactions and find different relationships, there may be a sense of abandonment the other feels as a result of us not choosing to pursue that relationship any longer. In some cases, it actually helps us become stronger in our commitment to what truly matters in this life. People are important, but there are times when some people are just not right for us because we are too weak to avoid the things they are doing which might lead us into compromise, or we are just being continually degraded in the relationship. The company we keep matters - it affects our conduct and conversation, so it cannot be eliminated from this "walk away" process.
The important part of this instruction to us is not the "walking away", but the "pursuing" part. We turn away from something, but it is always to turn toward something better. We turn away from unwholesome conversation to pursue that which is uplifting, encouraging, etc. We turn away from conduct which is a little sketchy and pursue conduct which is grace-filled, honorable, and trustworthy. We turn away from company which is not pursuing the stuff God tells us is okay to pursue in order to avoid the trap that wrong conduct will actually create for us down the road! Just sayin!