Certain men . . . have secretly slipped in among you. They . . . change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)

I SPENT HOURS cleaning house for my Bible study group. They were meeting for the first time in my home, and I wanted it to not only look clean, but also smell that way. I used pine-scented cleansers, and then just for good measure, set out a little air freshener so when they walked in the door, they would get a whiff of cleanliness. Then I decided to pop some popcorn in the microwave while I brushed my hair. I wasn’t watching or listening for the pops to diminish. Sure enough, the smell of burnt popcorn permeated my house. All the clean smells were covered up with that rancid stench just as my guests arrived.

Sometimes someone with a “burnt popcorn” attitude enters into a group of believers. The person’s negativity can become contagious, and soon everyone is grumbling or short-tempered. The thing is, they don’t realize it right away. Then a visitor makes the comment that people in the fellowship don’t seem loving and friendly, but whiny and petty. That one “bad apple” has rotted the whole barrel, as the proverb goes.

We must be careful, watch, and listen, lest this happens in our family, our group of Christian friends, or our church. Do as Jude suggests in verse 23—snatch them from the fire at the first sign of bad attitude, before they start to smell.

Ask God to help you today to give off the sweet aroma of godliness to those around you.

Julie B. Cosgrove is a widowed Christian author and speaker living in Fort Worth, Texas. She has one son and two cats, and is involved with women’s and outreach ministries.