The company you keep

Growing up in church I heard so many messages about the significance of the people you keep closest to you. Often the verse (1 Corinthians 15:33) was quoted:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Once we left youth group, the idea was presented less and less often. And now as adults, the thought doesn’t really cross our minds. Our friendship groups are pretty much segmented into different life categories such as family, work, recreation, church, volunteer, etc.

But the growth and potential of our faith can be drastically changed by the friends we associate ourselves with. Yesterday as I was doing my quiet time, I read the tragic story of 2 Samuel 13 about the rape of David’s daughter, Tamar.

The story absolutely broke my heart. Sure, we may have heard the Scriptures before, but we should never grow numb to the truths they present. There is a divine reason for their presence in God’s Word.

Before we are even told of what Amnon does to his half-sister, we are introduced to his friend Jonadab. Jonadab is also Amnon’s cousin, the son of David’s brother. They are related by blood, but they are also tight in their friendship.

2 Samuel 13:2-3 reads

Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man.

When Jonadab asks Amnon why he’s so depressed, Amnon admits his lust for Tamar. Instead of pointing Amnon in the righteous direction and encouraging him to seek after the God of David, Jonadab called on his instinct–to manipulate.

Jonadab was the friend who told Amnon exactly what he wanted to hear. He indulged Amnon’s selfish nature, and satisfied his sinful hungers. If Amnon wanted something, surely he was entitled to it. If he lusted after his sister, he should force her to sleep with him. Amnon was a prince.

He deserved it. He deserved her.

The Bible tells us Jonadab was a shrewd man. He was smart and cunning, he knew just what to say or do to entice his friend to act in an immoral way.

Although Amnon was the one who eventually made the choice to violate his sister, the company he kept influenced him in that direction.

Some of us think “I’m strong enough to stand up for what I believe in, even when my friends tell me I’m a prude, a goody-two-shoes, a bore.”

We say we are able to stand up in the face of their adversity. But can I just tell you that it’s so much easier for someone to pull us down in our faith than for us to pull them up?

Should we cut ourselves off entirely from people who aren’t yet saved? No, but we do need to set up boundaries, ask for discernment, and know when to step away. Amnon let Jonadab into his private affairs, and this choice eventually led to his death and the destruction of his family.

Our choices don’t just affect us. They can taint our witnesses or they can build our testimonies. How are we acting? What company do we keep closest to us?

Even when Jesus walked on the earth He kept twelve closer than the thousands upon thousands that followed Him. He was wise in choosing who He had brotherly associations with because He knew the power of the company we keep.

Today I pray that God reveals who we need to cut ties with, who we need to step back from, who we need to keep close, and who we should build up. Our faith comes first. Not friends, not even family. Ultimately, we must build a firm foundation of faith before we try and speak into the lives of others. Are we strong in Him or are we swayed with the first waves?

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