I’m going to talk about peer pressure. Last episode I talked about how living under pressure is dangerous? That pressure can be positive? How we can best handle pressure. Today I want to continue talking about pressure. Before I get into the heart of the subject, I want to talk a little bit about the early apostles and the early church leaders. They were Christians before it was cool to be a Christian, Christianity wasn’t officially allowed to exist until about 316 AD. In the early years, especially in Judea it was considered a sect of Judaism. To the Greeks and Romans it was some weird cult populated by people who talked about some guy the Romans had killed but who they claim rose from the dead. I was reminded of them because I am recording this around Easter, and it’s a time when Christians celebrate the remembrance of the resurrection. Now the early followers lived under constant pressure to change, and that pressure came from those around them or their peers. So in today’s message, specifically I want to look at How can we handle negative peer pressure? How can we help someone who is feeling under pressure? Are there ways we can minimize or prevent pressure?
How can we handle negative peer pressure?
As adults we often don’t really think about peer pressure. After all, that’s something we tend to think of as only affecting young people. The reality is that all of us can fall prey to peer pressure. If you think about it, we often vote for one candidate or another, not because we believe in what they are saying, but because our friends are voting for that person. In fact, I have often asked people exactly why are they voting for this or that candidate, what did the candidate say that made them appealing and often there’s no real answer.
The first step in handling negative peer pressure is to choose your companions wisely. Proverbs 24:1 “Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them;” There’s an old saying, about how all that glitters is not gold. It’s easy nowadays to see some people who are “living the good life” and be very envious of them. After all, they seem to have it all, and the message they send out is that, if you act like they do, you too can have it all. The reality is that in many cases, those folks are not really happy. Oh they smile when the cameras are on them, and they make a great deal about showing off what they have, but inside they’re often empty. Their relationships are empty, their lives are filled with shallow people who will leave at the slightest hint of trouble. However, if they are people we believe in it can be tough to not follow in their path. After all, we all want to appear with it, nobody wants to be embarrassed in public. We cannot allow our fear of embarrassment to keep us from doing the right thing and making the correct decision. Remember the story of John the Baptist and King Herod? Well if you don’t I’ll remind you about it. John the Baptist was making a name for himself and part of it was at the expense of King Herod, who was an incredibly evil human being. Herod had stolen his brother’s wife, and was generally a bad person. John the Baptist had been regularly chastising Herod about his situation and finally Herod wanted him out of the way. At first he was only going to put him in jail, because John was really popular with the public and Herod didn’t want a riot to break out. But….as we find in Matthew 14:6-1- “ But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod, so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Having been prompted by her mother, she *said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.” Herod knew what the right decision was, and yet because of his lust for the young girl, and not wanting to be embarrassed he gave in. Since he had been tempted he gave in to the temptation. Temptations drive most of our bad decisions. Herod made his decision while at a party, with, I’m willing to wager, a lot of booze flowing, a woman dancing deductively and so on. Now think about society today. In almost every city in America you can go somewhere that has a lot of booze flowing and women dancing seductively and in some cases, ladies, you aren’t immune to this, you have men dancing seductively. There is a lot of temptation going around. Now some folks think the way to combat temptation is to simply make everything illegal, and that never works. Prohibition has never really prohibited anything from occurring. The only thing that makes people change is themselves. It is up to each of us to face our temptations, especially those we are facing because of our friends and say no.
1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” It is possible to just say no, it’s difficult, and that I can attest to from personal experience. I’ve given in to temptation more often than I like to think, not as often now that I’m an old cranky guy, but when I was younger, oh yeah. So that’s how we can deal with peer pressure ourselves but what about others?
How can I help someone who is feeling under pressure? Be there for them and show them another way. I know this sound simplistic, and I also know that it works. When a person is feeling pressure to act one way or another, then often they are feeling a little anxious. They might be nervous about what to do, that’s when the words in Proverbs 12:24, can come into play. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.” Think about it, if your friends know that you are there for them and that you actively support them in doing the right thing, they will feel better about their decision. Your strength will make them stronger, again in Proverbs, chapter 27 Verse 17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” I had a porch that needed reinforcing, so I went out and bought some posts and used them to provide some additional stability to the foundation. That’s pretty much the same thing that happens when we are there for our friends. We can help prop them up and then the next time they are faced with a dilemma or are tempted to do the wrong thing, they just might have the ability to withstand the pressure. It doesn’t always have to be about standing up to pressure, sometimes we need to just do our best to prevent it from happening.
Are there ways I can minimize or prevent pressure? Much like how we can handle it, the solutions are pretty much the same. Stay away from folks who don’t have your best interest at heart comes immediately to mind. Psalm 1:1 sums it up very nicely, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” Glitz and glamor aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, in fact, they are also known as flash and trash. I have some folks in my life who are constantly trying to get me mixed up in things I don’t want to be involved in. I have had to block some phone numbers and just avoid them, after all, if I can’t behave myself, how can I be counted on to advise others about this stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not even remotely perfect, I am forgiven. So I can speak from experience, and while I have found that works best for me. Look, I’m not going to pound the pulpit and demand that you believe everything and exactly the same way I do. I will try to answer questions about stuff and help folks change their path. We humans do have a tendency to want the good life and in fact, even the bible talks about it, Ecclesiastes 8:15 “So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.” Well if that’s the case, then what’s the harm when my friends want to go out and party? The fact is most times when something is quoted that seems to give us permission to just let our morals drift away it’s taken out of context. Those are the times when peer pressure really takes over and we can be led astray. Paul remarked on those ides when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “…let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” There are many things which might look good on the surface, but underneath are rotten to the core. Many times people will try to get us to do things they enjoy, not because it’s good for them or us, but because they really don’t want to do it by themselves. We cannot allow ourselves to be led astray because of peer pressure.
When you feel like you’re being pressured to do something you know is wrong, or something that you just don’t want to do, try this prayer. Dear Lord Jesus, today I am unsure of what’s going on around me. Sometimes I feel as if everyone is pressuring me. Please help me to stand up to the pressure and to turn over any worries that I might have. I trust in you, and believe that in the end, you will help me understand who does and doesn’t have my best interests at heart. Help me discern who I can trust and who is walking with you. I know that you will always be there for me, and you will keep me strong. Thank you. Amen
I want to thank everyone who listens to these messages, I hope and pray that they are helping you in your daily life. I have listeners from all over the world which tells me, the word is needed everywhere and we all face the same kind of issues regardless of where we live.
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See you next week – peace and god bless
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