As Christians, you will oftentimes hear it be said that you need to be careful of the company that you keep. You are urged to keep like minded company, to stay within the Christian community, and to surround yourself with those that hold themselves to the same moral compass as you do. And just as often, many of us will balk at that idea and believe that we will be fine if we surround ourselves with those that don’t fall into those guidelines.
So why is it so important for Christians, especially those new to faith, to be selective on whom they surround themselves with? Simply put, we are the company that we keep and we tend to be like sponges and we soak up the thoughts and belief systems of those that we are around the most. We can be absolutely sure that our hearts are in one place but quickly fall under the influence of someone else and their opinion, thus completely abandoning everything that we ourselves had held sacred.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
“Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.”Proverbs 13.20-21
Stop and think of how many times this very thing took place within the New Testament in the Bible. Poor Paul had his work cut out for him as there was always someone undermining him. It sure did seem like every time Paul turned his back someone was there negating all that they had accomplished. And just think, this was back when he and the other apostles were still performing miracles in Jesus’ name, and people still doubted him all because others came in and said that he was wrong. Even those that saw those miracles with their own eyes were easily swayed. Could you imagine his frustration??
But common sense aside, just by reading the Word we will discover passages that instruct us on exactly this issue. Here you have Paul giving a warning on this very matter that was found in 2 Corinthians 6.14-15 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
Then in 6:16-18 it goes on to say, “… As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Then Paul goes on to say in 7:1, “Therefore since we have these promises dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
There has always been a reason behind being careful with who we mingle with and invite into our lives. If nothing else resonates within your mind, one would hope that at least the promises from God should drive you to take those warnings more seriously. Again, we need to be reminded that God knew full well that we’re human and that temptation was part of who we are. Keeping company with those that are likely to sway our thought processes falls under that category. It is indeed a temptation, especially if you’re going through a lonely phase in your life. But remember just as it states in 1 Corinthians 10.13 “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Now I know that many of us have people in our lives, whether from our past or present, that we’re thinking to ourselves fall under this category, and we feel obligated to keep them in our life. Whether it is out of familial duty, the history between you, or maybe you feel like you owe it to them for whatever reason. But we have to remind ourselves that we were commanded by Him that we are to put Him above everyone and everything else. (see Matthew 10.37).
We are to love Him above all else. And just as He further commanded of us, “Whoever does not take up their own cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (10:38) He’s telling you right there in those two verses that you have to make the choice between Him, or those things that you’re coddling and holding onto. He’s telling you that you can’t follow him but yet hang onto the things in your life that will hold you back from devoting your whole self completely to him. He’s giving you simple instructions on how to do this the right way and yet so many of us still say we don’t know what we are doing wrong.
Incidentally, we also need to avoid (or attempt to because sometimes they make it hard) those that purposely cause a division within our community. There seems to be an over abundance of those that are fueled by nothing short of hatred, spite and the purpose of dividing the masses as much as they possibly can. It still astounds me to see just how much of this takes place within the Christian community as well. They make it really easy to pick out who is seeking religion for the sake of saying they have it, verses a relationship with our Lord and Savior.
These folks are just as toxic to us as those that I just wrote about. They will cause you to act out of character, to be someone that you are not, oftentimes provoking the side of you that you valiantly keep at bay. They will purposely and intentionally try to trigger you just to garner a response out of you or to prove themselves right, e.g., “Christians don’t act that way!” or “See, religion is bad because look at how you treated me!”
But alas, warnings of these very things were contained throughout the Bible as well, but the ones in the book of Jude caught my attention here recently…
(4.) “For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
(10.) “Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct- as irrational animals do- will destroy them.”
(16.) “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”
So what do you do if you’re caught being stuck in the middle of the believers verses non believers debacle? Especially in today’s times where we often feel that our voices are the ones less heard and respected. What do we Christians need to do in order to maintain our dignity, our moral stance and to uphold our values? Are we just supposed to just shy away and surrender under the opposition? Or rather are we to just succumb to the modern day bullying that we face day in and day out? What about all of the so called religious leaders that are making a mockery of the very thing we are trying so hard to salvage and advance?
Simple, we should take the advice that was also found in Jude…
1:17-23 “But dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who will follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear- hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
It is becoming more vital each day that those within the Christian community unite together and lift one another up as a whole. We should be supporting one another and helping one another grow. There should be love amongst us all, not division. Truly folks, right now is when we need to come together and grow our congregations and reach as many as we can. The day is coming where it won’t matter what denomination you lay claim too, it will only matter that you are a follower of Christ and that you have allowed Him fully within your heart.
“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.” Psalm 46.6
Billie is a 40-something stay-at-home momma of five beautiful children and Grammy to three grandchildren. When not wrangling the littles, she babysits for her two adult children. You will find her gardening, canning, baking, and making the most delicious meals for her family. Billie is a multitasker juggling a team of miniature tyrants, a cat, a snake, two dogs, two rats, and nine chickens. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and studying her bible. Her passion is sharing the gospel through her writing! So, whether she’s feeding your body with delicious meals or feeding your soul through her writing, join Billie as she takes you on a journey providing you with “Food for Thought.”