by Brad Shockley
To be considered mainstreamed in this present world one must have a very active social life. Being popular is personified much like the glittering lights of Vegas. When the lights are bright, flashy and glitzy there is a sense of excitement in the air. Likewise, when one is popular, well liked and socially accepted there is a feeling of self-actualization. According to Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, the most longed for need in life is self-actualization, the need for a feeling of self worth. He explains, in his own words, the definition of self-actualization:
Self-actualization is an ongoing process. Self-actualizing people are, with one single exception, involved in a cause outside their own skin. They are devoted, work at something, something very precious to them – some calling or vocation, in the old sense, the priestly sense. When you select out for careful study very fine and healthy people, strong people, creative people, sagacious people…you get a different view of mankind (online, http://www.connect.net/georgen.maslow.htm).
For many, surrounding themselves with company provides them with this longed for need. Our society is vigorously promoting the essentiality of having a large array of friends. “The more the merrier,” is the constant cry of civilization.
Encompassing one’s self with company can be a positive thing if the association is spiritually minded. On the other hand, if the crowd is ungodly in nature, it can be a detrimental experience. It is a well-known fact that those we spend time with will influence our decisions the most. The devil and his infantry have used this bit of information to their advantage. They are trying to put God’s children in a position where people with a worldly nature surround them at all times. When the prince of darkness is successful in this plan of attack he will be able to influence the decisions of Christians.
Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who has ever lived, inked these words on parchment many years ago, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10). Solomon was a very educated man, not from the leading philosophical schools of this world, but from God’s divine hand and the ever so popular school of hard knocks. Life experiences are the best educators one can have. Solomon lived a life full of bitter experiences. Instead of drowning in regret from them he took the steps to ensure others could benefit from his mistakes. One would do well to heed the advice Solomon offers after living a unique life of personal mishaps.
The third king of Israel is in a great position to offer the advice of not acquainting one’s self with sinners. It was the move to political power that blinded and tempted him to marry foreign women. He was a real pleasure seeker and ladies man. Because of his desire to associate with others of different religious beliefs he lost sight of the God his father had so diligently served. These women influenced his decisions and like a snowball rolling down a mountainside Solomon was not able to stop the course he was traveling. Worship to false gods had taken place and Solomon was in the center of all the commotion. Thankfully he straightened out his life for he tells us in Ecclesiastes, “…Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (12:13)
The Scriptures furnish us with several reasons why we should avoid evil company. It is this writer’s intent to supply you with a few in hopes you might see the folly of associating with those of a carnal mind. Looking to God’s holy word for help the following reasons are offered for avoiding evil company.
For Fear of Becoming an Enemy of God
In the short letter that James writes he is concerned about giving Christians practical advice for living a faithful life. In the latter half of his epistle he tells us “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). The God that we serve is all-powerful. This world rest in the palm of His hand, He can do anything He wishes at any moment in time. As His children we should realize the importance of worshiping, praising and abiding with Him.
Those who wish to develop friendships with this world will find themselves wrapped up with worldly things. When Christians spend their time trying to impress the world, as opposed to furthering the cause of Christ, they are creating enmity with God. An ill will is present and they no longer have the relationship with God that He desires for all people to have. This is a dangerous bridge to cross. One, with no doubt, that is missing planks. When we start going over we must watch every step we take, if not we will seemingly find ourselves plummeting to the bottom of a canyon.
When faced with the decision of who we will be spending our time with let us heed the words of Proverbs 4:14,15 “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” Here the writer is exclaiming, “Do not even touch!” This is much like a mother telling her young child to stay away from the hot stove. The child does not understand the reasoning behind the command until they touch it, then it is too late. The damage caused by the disobedience is direly painful. We would be far better off to just walk away at the beginning than to hang around and flirt with trouble. As the apostle Paul states, “be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). For fear of becoming an enemy of God we must stay clear of those with a depraved state of mind.
To Be Wise
There is some sense in almost every person to become wise. Wisdom is a key that many are diligently searching for. The key, when found, will unlock happiness, contentment and satisfaction in this current life. By fleeing evil companionship with others we are starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together to develop wisdom. Solomon, once again, offers a few thoughts on this subject, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20).
The first step in becoming wise is to spend time around others who are wise. This propels one to ask the question, “Who is wise?” This world is full of philosophers, psychologist, scientist and people of great intellectual reasoning, but does the amount of education a person has make them wise? Certainly not, those who are “contending for the faith” and trying to please God in everything they do are wise. Those obedient to every command of the Higher Authority and striving each day to take one step closer to Him are wise. Those living a Christ like life and trying to show others the way to pardon, forgiveness and eternal paradise are wise. Those “growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior” are wise. Wisdom is the act of following the footsteps of Jesus and staying in that straight and narrow way.
Wise people pay attention to those they surround themselves with and are mindful of the road they are traveling. They let the Word of God be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. They can see where they are going so they might not stumble. They avoid immoral people because “the way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble” (Prov. 4:19). The wicked stumble around in the darkness, they cannot see what they are getting into. The devil likes the darkness because people cannot see right from wrong. When traveling with no light path is dangerous and the pitfalls are plentiful. To be wise we must shun evil company.
They Will Turn Your Heart Away
The next logical reason we find for avoiding company that is not morally sound is because they will turn our heart away. As Christians we need not look far to see this principle. The one whose advice we have been studying experienced this first hand.
And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. I Kings 11:3,4
As Solomon was busy playing the game of politics he must of thought in the back of his mind that they would never be able to influence his religious life. He believed he could make a difference in others decisions without having to give any of his own turf. So he went about doing whatever it took to become buddies with people of other nations. This led to many marriages and relationships with women of other cultures. It was not long before they talked him into committing acts that were displeasing to God.
This great king had the notion to stand strong for Jehovah but the temptation started coming from all sides. The pressure was too great and he gave in. The thing that makes The devil so successful is the variety and diversity of his attacks. Just when you think you have his game plan figured out, he comes at you from another direction holding a different weapon in his hand. The devil would have us to become friends with the world so he can turn our hearts away from the truth.
“Bad Company Ruins Good Morals”
This admonition comes from the very pen of the apostle Paul. In his first letter to the Corinthians he writes, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (15:33, RSV). This saying has developed into one of the most used in the realm of parenthood. Most parents care deeply about their children and wish the best for them. They know evil people will reap what they sow (Gal. 6:7-8) and, to the best of their ability, make sure their children avoid the harvest of the amoral.
We are who we are in part because of the people we spend time with. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the coutenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). Just like an ironworker developing a piece of cold steel into artwork those who we surround ourselves with form us. When in the constant presence of righteous people it is easy to follow that which is just, but when corrupt people abound hands that could be used to create a masterpiece in turn erect a monster. Influence of peers determines which path we will travel. When friends lead us down the broad way it will be difficult to ever get back to trotting in the straight way.
For You Will Be Blessed
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1). There are three sharp truths from this passage that throws light and wisdom on hanging out with the wrong crowd. The advice found in this verse is priceless, all would do well to heed these three points. When these thoughts are contemplated and then put in practice blessings will start to flow.
The first picture painted by the author is that of walking “not in the counsel of the ungodly.” Just stay away, keep off the same paths they travel and one will never have to worry about following in their footsteps. They have dug deep ruts on the roadways of life, once you fall into one it is a struggle to diverge.
The second truth pulled from this verse is not to “stand in the way of sinners.” After telling us not to walk with the ungodly the writer points out the danger of just standing in their way. They still will try to influence you if you are around. The best thing to do is just remove yourself from their presence. The sinner has a demeanor about them that is not good for anybody to be around.
Last of all we should not “sit in the seat of the scornful.” A scornful person is one that is full of contempt. When a person acts in a disgraceful manner they most definitely are not the example God wants them to be. Life is too short to spend our time with the scornful. Why spend time sitting around the disdainful when we could be in company with Christians? While in company with people whom the blood of Christ has washed our spiritual life will be strengthened. When encircled with God’s children we will be blessed.
The social demands of this world call to pull us from what is righteous and just. Satan has his hand in every piece of the pie, a real deceiver who knows every trick of the trade. He is an expert when it comes to deception, not some amateur just learning to play the game. The game plan calls for us to bond with evil company. The prince of darkness knows when we spend our time unwisely, in the midst of bad company, he will have a greater chance to get us to do things that are ungodly in nature. Let us avoid evil company for when we do we will be a friend to God, be wise, keep our heart in the right place, keep or morals in tact and be richly blessed.