George Bowers Sr. Avoiding evil’s appearance

George Bowers Sr.

Mother’s Day always brings happy memories for the wonderful blessing of my mom. Although I think of her often, this annual holiday is a special reminder of one of the best gifts God ever gave me.

As I’ve shared before, our mother, like many others, was a woman of incredible faith. She loved God deeply and sought to know him better every day of her life. Her regular prayer and Bible study not only enriched her faith but benefited all of us around her as well.

But faith was not just something mom believed. It wasn’t just a mental exercise of accepting the gospel and getting her doctrine straight. Mom’s faith was something she lived out. She was determined to obey the Scriptures in every way possible and to the best of her ability regardless of personal inconvenience, cost, or embarrassment. Hers was not just a Sunday show but a weekday lifestyle.

One summer when I was about ten, our family attended an outdoor picnic. It was a typical summer cookout with burgers and dogs, watermelons, ice cream and soft drinks. While parents visited, us kids got together to do our own things playing games, running wild, and generally raising Cain.

What was out of the ordinary from most cookouts we’d been to were the cups. Instead of the white Styrofoam or red plastic, these had the name and logo of a popular alcoholic beverage printed on each one. They probably were freebies from a convenience store and held the same 12 ounces as any other cup and the liquid would taste the same as well. Our mother, however, did not use one.

I don’t remember whether she got an extra cup out of our car, borrowed a Tupperware one, or went without, but I do remember her silent refusal to drink from a Budweiser cup. She didn’t make a big deal, complain to our host, or broadcast an announcement. She just didn’t use a cup that advertised beer. I’m aware that Christians have different convictions about alcohol but mom was very firm in abstaining from it due to the pain she had seen it cause others.

I recall some conversation later and how some folks didn’t understand what the issue was. Everyone who knew mom would know that she wasn’t drinking anything alcoholic out of any container, so what difference would it make what was written on the outside?

Mom answered that question as she did most questions in her life: from the Word of God. She quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:22 which says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Paul doesn’t just direct us to abstain from evil itself, but even from any appearance of it. To our mom, drinking pure water or any other liquid out of a beer cup would certainly appear to be evil. If someone didn’t know her, it could cloud her witness and possibly bring dishonor to her Lord.

Would to God we all sought to obey this verse with the same single mindedness as my mom. As society has become increasingly darker around us, the challenge to remain unspotted by the world and to avoid even the appearance of evil has become significantly more challenging. In what ways are we already compromising and not only giving the appearance, but actually committing evil?

Mom’s firm convictions consistently lived out without comment or complaint continue to inspire me today. It wasn’t any easier for her to be different among her peers then than it is for any of us to do so now. Although she didn’t have the opportunity to anticipate this scenario and plan her response, she just quietly did what seemed best without offending her host or claiming martyrdom. She just made an honest effort to be faithful to what she understood it meant to follow Jesus consistently.

All of us have been greatly influenced by our mothers. In many cases, they taught and showed us more about Jesus than anyone else. Their examples have been more powerful than a thousand sermons. On this Mother’s Day, may we consider how they spoke the word of God to us and let us “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7-8). Thanks to my mom and all the other godly mothers out there! Keep doing what you’re doing! Happy Mother’s Day! George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 11 books including his latest devotional, Blessings, Volume II, which is a collection of these articles. It  is available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.