Our former youth pastor used to tell the teenagers at our church, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you what kind of Christian you are.” There is much wisdom in that saying, as our former youth pastor is wise beyond his years. So it is with our current youth pastor. But not only should teens look at the company they keep to determine the level of their Christianity, so also should adult Christians. Far too many adult Christians live hellish lives Monday through Saturday expecting to get cleaned up on Sunday as though church is some spiritual car wash.
Now I’m not saying don’t go to church to get cleaned up; by all means go to church on every Sunday. What I am saying is you don’t go mudding in your newly washed car straight from the car wash. Righteousness is attained through discipline and habit and we must understand that we can be wrongly influenced by our “friends.”
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)
Am I saying you cannot have friends who aren’t Christians? No, I’ve kept a few friends who are not Christians, however I do not do the things with them that I used to. And being the truly good friends that they are, they know that I would not even if they asked. And admittedly, our relationship is not as close as it once was because we are on different life paths.
As Christians, we are to be careful with whom we associate because our walk with Christ can be hampered by the company we keep. In fact, the case could be made that those who claim Christianity and yet still live their former lives may not have actually been converted. They assuredly are not bearing any spiritual fruit:
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
If we are to become the righteousness of Christ, we must remove sin from our lives. And it is not just the obvious rebellious lives we once lived, it’s living transformed lives in obedience to God’s call on our lives by giving up partying and drinking, going to church and Sunday School, tithing, sharing the gospel, and fellowshipping with one another. You cannot hang out with the “in” crowd and expect to bear any righteous fruit:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)
Oh but Brother Dave, I do the same things I used to do because it allows me to witness to my lost friends. Really? How’s that working out for you? How many of them have you actually invited to church? How many of them have you share the gospel? How often does God come up in your conversations?
Beloved, I’m not fussing you; I’m sharing my testimony. Those were the same ineffectual ways and words with which I tried to live my Christian life. It was fruitless and frustrating. Until I learned (and am still learning) that I can no longer live in the flesh, my spirit’s thirst was never quenched. Living my old life while being a new creation in Christ always left me wanting more:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:19-25)
It is easy to be seduced by this world, believing that if we stand on righteousness we will be mocked and abandoned. And there is a good possibility that could happen. However, instead of looking at that as a curse, understand Jesus said it is a blessing:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
How do we overcome the fear of persecution? We trust in Jesus; even if we are lonely we are never alone. We know that we have a faithful Savior who is always by our side.
You can choose no better friend than Jesus.
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers