It’s liberating to know that we cannot be friends with everyone (we looked at this in my last post
), but here is more good news: God doesn’t want
you to be friends with everyone! (side note: this is not
an excuse to be unfriendly and burn bridges, but more on that later).
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (ESV).
We should certainly always be friendly and loving towards everyone. It’s our opportunity to be a witness and show people God’s love and influence them positively for Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We are called to be influencers; to be light in the darkness and salt in all the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). God doesn’t want us, as believers, to completely separate ourselves from the world and have nothing to do with it. We’re in the world but not of it (John 17:16). In order to reach the world we have to have something to do with it, but we need to ask ourselves: am I the influencer, or am I being influenced?
“Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.””
1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV
If you think that you can keep bad company and not end up being corrupted, the scripture says that you’re deceived. When you hang out (or fellowship) with someone enough, you tend to become like each other, even if just a little. You allow those closest to you to influence you. Since being married, my wife has influenced me to be a better man, and she has caught some of my humour. We’ve influenced each other. You may start using the same expressions, or enjoying the same kind of humour, but the influence also goes deeper and will affect your worldview which ultimately affects the way you live your life. A Japanese Proverb says, “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends”. The people you are closest to will rub off on you. “Bad company corrupts good character,” and this will prevent you from reaching your potential and even fulfilling your purpose and living out your destiny. That is why the Lord doesn’t want you to be friends with everyone. You should be friendly and kind to everyone, but choose your friends wisely and keep company with people who you can positively influence and who can positively influence you. The Pharisees (religious people) weren’t Jesus’ closest friends. Jesus had His disciples who were closest to Him, and then He hung out with ungodly people (Luke 15:1) – but they were not influencing Him, He was influencing them.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
We should live lives of love for others – just like our Father God does. “Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.” This shows us that “good company corrupts bad character.” When we hang out (keep company or fellowship) with our loving Heavenly Father, His goodness and love will rub off on us and we will become more loving towards others. Focus on God’s unconditional love and grace for you, receive it and then influence others by allowing it to flow from you towards them.
If you find yourself in bad company and realise that you’re being negatively influenced, I want to encourage you not to burn bridges with others. Find some good friends who will influence you positively and help to build your faith, and start hanging out with them. You don’t have to stop seeing the bad company altogether, just start spending more time with good company and withdraw yourself from the bad company in a godly fashion. If you’re looking for some good company why not join a LifeGroup and start connecting with like-minded believers in a good church. Getting involved in a good church and serving behind the scenes should also provide you with some opportunities to make good friends.
The company you keep influences you positively or negatively, and will either help you to fulfill your destiny or it will prevent you from doing so.