Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Company We Keep

Three of our sweet grandsons
 I love babysitting our grandchildren.  It gives me time to play with them, hug and kiss them and in general, spoil them!  However, if they have a cold, it has been my experience that I usually catch it as has been the case this week.  I think God is building my immune system along with theirs.
     While catching a cold is not fun, there are many other things we can catch from those around us that are more detrimental to our well-being.  For example, if we spend a lot of time with a negative person, we can easily pick up a negative outlook on life.  Attitudes, moods and worldly thinking can be quickly caught if we are not on guard.
     Proverbs, the book of wisdom, speaks to this issue in 13:20:  "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm."  We often read in the newspaper about some young person who has come from a good home but who happened to be in the company of others that committed a crime.  Because he was present, he is also charged.  This is a clear example of being a companion of fools.   Even in the church, this can happen as well.  It may not be a crime, but some aberrant teaching that a person catches from another begins to spread.
     In I Corinthians 15, Paul is addressing this church that had so many errors and problems.  This specific chapter dealt with this issue of the resurrection from the dead.  There were some in this congregation who claimed to have knowledge (I Cor. 8:1) but who denied the Resurrection showing their ignorance regarding the things of God.  Their ideas infected others just like a cold virus.  Paul warned in I Cor. 15:33:  "Do not be deceived:  'Bad company ruins good morals.'"  This is how false teachings get started and grow.  No matter how much we regard others (whether pastors, teachers, authors, philosophers etc.) we must always consider what they say in line with God's Word.  I have a healthy respect for the Bereans who carefully looked into the Scriptures to see if what Paul was preaching was correct (Acts 17:11).  We also ought to do the same.
     Obviously, we live in a fallen world where we daily rub shoulders with all sorts of people and many ideas.  We are not meant to hide away, but we can be proactive in how we can avoid becoming infected with bad attitudes and worldly thinking.
     1)  The best vaccination in the world is reading and knowing your Bible.  Having the knowledge of God's truth allows the Spirit to bring to our remembrance God's own Words when we are confronted with wrong ideas.
     2) Daily put on God's full armor so we are ready for the battle of ideas that confront us.  God has given us all we need for life and godliness but we must be prepared. (Ephesians 6:10-18).
     3) Be prayed up!  Daily spend time in conversation with God that He might deliver us from evil.  Jesus is our example here as He spent large amounts of time alone with the Father.  He even gave us a pattern for prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
Two more of our sweet grandchildren
     4) Do spend quality time in fellowship with other believers in worship to God and instruction through preaching.  Other believers can stimulate us to grow and encourage us to correct errors in our thinking.
     5) Avoid spending long periods of time around those who are always negative, worldly in their thinking or foolish in their actions.  While we are to share the Gospel with those outside the faith, we
are not to spend more time with them than with the fellowship of believers.  We must remember that the company we keep is crucial to our outlook on life and how we grow as a Christian.
     I will eventually get over this cold.  It takes time, and I am doing all I can (vitamins, lots of water, rest) to get better.  In the same way, if we DO get infected with some wrong thinking, negative attitudes or sinful actions, we also have some remedies and the first is to repent (I John 1:9).  Then, we must start to make some changes by considering what happened that led to this.  Course corrections should be a way of life for Christians because we are not perfect yet.  Let us become proactive in our relationships rather than reactive remembering that those we spend time with will influence our lives either for good or for evil.  Keeping Christ the center of all we think, do and say will help us to glorify Him.  Selah!

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