As a child growing up, my mother would constantly remind me and my siblings to be careful of the company we keep. As youngsters, we were very aware of the influence that friends and acquaintances could have on the things we do primarily because we had seen how other kids had adopted bad habits and attitudes from hanging out with the wrong crowd. Of course, growing up in the church we also understood that we were ultimately responsible for our own actions, but we could not ignore that despite our best intentions, if we were not careful, we could end up doing the wrong thing in order to maintain unhealthy friendships. I can still hear Mom’s voice: “Show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are.” There is much truth in those words.
These thoughts came to mind as I read Psalm 119:63, “I’m a friend and companion of all who fear you, of those committed to living by your rules” (MSG). Interestingly, Scripture has a lot to say about the associations we form and keep (e.g. Exodus 23:2; Deuteronomy 12:30; Proverbs 22:24; Ephesians 5:6-8). From the formative years of the nation of Israel, God warned His people to avoid certain individuals, groups, and nations whose ways of being were against His laws and principles. Whenever God’s people violated this directive, they found themselves in a position of compromise. It is said that we can only rise to the level of the company we keep, and for the child of God intent on walking in the ways of God, it is imperative that we be mindful of those we allow into our personal space. Our ultimate goal is not to please others, or even ourselves, but rather to please our Heavenly Father. To help us in reaching that objective, we should surround ourselves primarily with people of like mind.
In Amos 3:3 we read, “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?” The King James translation puts it this way: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The agreement to consider is not so much on secular things, as important as those are as well, but especially so on those things that are spiritual. Even among Christians, there is a need for vigilance in this area. Some who profess to be followers of Christ are doing so from a distance; professing allegiance with their lips but their hearts are afar off (Matthew 15:8). Others sit in the shallow waters of the Christian experience instead of launching out “into the deep” to experience the deeper things of God. The close friends we keep are often some of the greatest influencers in and on our lives. These associations point to the direction in which our lives are going and often speak to the values and things we cherish. We need to ensure that the meaningful relationships in our lives are propelling us in the right direction; towards conformity to the image of Christ in the ways we walk, talk, and live. This is ultimately God’s priority (see Romans 8:28-29) and it should be ours as well.
How do your friendships and relationships measure up? Now is as good a time as any to do a friendship/relationship check-up.