Some people always return shopping carts. (I suppose, after almost eight years in the Deep South, I should get used to calling them “buggies.”) Some never return them. And some return them occasionally, depending on circumstances. You probably didn’t need a university study to reach that conclusion. What was revealed in one such study, however, is surprising.
Researchers deliberately placed a few buggies loose in a parking lot and kept another lot clear. Then they placed fliers on all the vehicles’ windshields in both lots. Drivers in the cluttered lot littered at a 58 percent rate; littering was only 30 percent in the cleared lot. Similar studies, putting average citizens in similar circumstances, yielded similar results.
The takeaway: misbehavior is contagious. If people get the idea that sloppiness is tolerated in one area, they will be more inclined to be sloppy in another.
That’s at least part of why God rejects habits such as laziness (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9) and complaining (James 5:9). A rotten attitude toward carnal things can spread to our work in the Lord’s service.
I think individual lives work that way, too. If you are irresponsible or disorderly in, say, your work life (stealing office supplies, arriving late habitually, etc.), the attitude will spread to, say, your personal life (lying to your spouse, ignoring your children, paying bills late, etc.). If cleanliness is not literally next to godliness, perhaps it is not too far off.