Recently the phrase “A few bad apples spoil the bunch” is circulating in mainstream media. Today “a few bad apples” is reinterpreted to mean a “few bad people make everyone else look bad.” Although it sounds familiar, it is not the original saying nor retained its original meaning.
The original proverb, “a bad apple spoils the bunch.” goes way back; the earliest is from 1340 in English and probably earlier in Latin. As time went on, preachers used a version of the original in their sermons as, “As one bad apple spoils the others, so you must show no quarter to sin or sinners.”
As with many sayings, it’s grounded in experience proven right over time. The reality is that some fruits, as they ripen, produce a gaseous hormone called ethylene, a ripening agent. When you store fruits together, the ethylene each piece emits causes the others around it to ripen further, and vice versa.
All it takes is one fruit to be riper than the others in order to initiate a chain reaction. The reason is simple, as the fruit ripens, it produces more ethylene. As the concentration of ethylene gas increases, it also initiates the same process with the other fruit. Given the right conditions and enough time, one apple can push all the fruit around it to ripen—and eventually rot. What’s more, the same can happen if one fruit is contaminated with mold.
This old proverb, “a bad apple spoils the bunch,” reminds me of how scripture warns us to be cautious about the company we keep. It may seem insignificant now, but hanging out with the wrong people can rot our thinking and walk with the Lord in time.
Carlos F. Peña is first and foremost a faithful follower of Christ and a devoted husband and father. Professionally he is a CEO, CMO, certified executive, leadership and life coach, business consultant, author, and entrepreneur for various companies he owns and operates. Over the years, Carlos has served in multiple leadership roles in business and ministry. Carlos is President and CMO of Pumped®, Inc., a brand development and design firm, CEO of Led to Lead®, a leadership, career, and business coaching company, and the founder and creator of the FX3® program. In ministry, he currently serves as Director of Men's Small Groups at Christ Fellowship in Miami, FL, focusing on discipleship. Carlos considers it his life's mission to help men discover and challenge them to be the men God desires them to be.
To learn more about Carlos, visit https://carlosfpena.com