The Five-Second Rule

If you accidentally drop a chicken nugget onto the floor, do you eat it? “Five-second rule!” is the usual reply, meaning that if you pick it up within five seconds, it’s ok to eat it. Germs and bacteria will not have had time to latch onto that tasty nugget. Science has again spoiled our fun. Researchers at Rutgers University have shown “that bacteria can contaminate food that falls on the floor instantaneously.” Another website ( made the recommendation about dropped food: “When in doubt, toss it out.”

Not all bacteria will make you sick, the article admits, but some have the potential to mightily disrupt your digestive system. Parents would do well to tell their children that the five-second rule is just not true (after they have learned it themselves, of course).

Does this principle of contamination only apply to food? How about things we allow into our minds and hearts? Some may think that a certain TV show or musical recording only has “a little bit” of questionable content. Does that mean it can’t do great damage?

How long did David gaze upon Bathsheba as she bathed herself (2 Sam 11)? That was likely an accidental sighting, but David didn’t turn away; he allowed the scene to arouse impure thoughts in his heart. That incident illustrates the truthfulness of James’ lesson on temptation; “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas 1:14-15). Death!

Like David, we sometimes stumble upon enticing images without meaning to. Other times, though, we have a pretty good idea that watching an R-rated movie might contain some lurid scenes. Do we show good judgment in choosing to watch it? We’re not sure if David’s words in Psa. 101:3 were written before or after the Bathsheba event, but they present a principle all should follow: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

By refusing to eat food dropped on the floor, I make it more likely I’ll not get sick. By determining not to allow darkness to invade my soul, I’ll more likely maintain my purity. That is, after all, the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 6:22-23).

Timothy D. Hall (edited)
via Livingston church of Christ
Livingston, TN

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