Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

5 Mins read

The Bible speaks a lot about the importance of keeping the right type of company. From the Old Testament to the new, we find the importance of God’s people surrounding themselves with likeminded individuals who are focused on the Kingdom of God. While God wants us to befriend the lost in the name of sharing His love with them, it’s important that you carefully evaluate the people who are closest to you. Today, discover more about the influences that you’re allowing into your life.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NIV)
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-I say this to your shame.

Since our God is a God of relationship, He spent a lot of time in His Word talking about the importance of our relationships with others. God’s design for human relationships involves us closely surrounding ourselves with people who can help keep us accountable, encourage us, and help keep us focused on the Kingdom of God.

Before we dive into today’s study, we should clear up a potential misconception. God does not want His people to close themselves off to unbelievers. Befriending those who don’t yet believe in the Gospel is the most effective way to evangelize them. However, it’s important that we’re choosy about who we let make up our closest circle of influence.

From the very beginning of time, God has been focused on human relationships. After He made Adam, He saw that it wasn’t good that Adam was alone. With that in mind, God made Eve so Adam could have a “helpmate that was suitable for him.” He wanted Adam to have someone who could fill in his own weak spots, encourage him, and keep him accountable.

If you fast forward to the New Testament, you continue to see the importance of relationships. Christ interacted with countless people over the course of his three-plus year ministry. However, when He was looking for the people who would be the closest to Him over that time, He chose carefully. At the onset of His ministry, Christ had upwards of 70 disciples. He sent them out in pairs of two, again highlighting the importance of relationship. However, He kept the 12 disciples that we read the most about in the New Testament closest to Him.

Paul’s admonishment to the Corinthian Church is a straightforward, harsh statement. “Don’t be deceived, bad company corrupts good character.” Paul didn’t want those believers to be ignorant about a fact that we still struggle with today. The people who make up your inner circle can either make you or break you.

Today, we’re going to look at other passages that speak to this truth in the name of self-examination. Who makes up your inner circle? Are they the types of people that God would want you to be closest to, or are they pulling you away from the Kingdom? Don’t be deceived, your answer matters.

The Process of Being Pulled Away

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.

Psalms, the longest book of the Bible, opens up with an admonishment to surround yourself with Godly people. Take a look at the process that David outlines that leads to being pulled away. Walking in step with the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the company of mockers. This passage is a progressive one that takes us through steps.

Walking in step with the wicked may not seem so bad at first. After all, you’re not really setting up camp and living with people who don’t believe in God. Instead, you’re simply “walking” along with them. How much damage could come from that? The damage that walking with the wicked produces is what happens next.

When you make those people the predominant influence in your life, you will quickly find yourself standing with them. Take a look at the verbs that David used in this passage, and consider them in the literal sense. If you walk with the wicked, you will eventually find yourself standing with them. After all, every long walk includes some breaks along the way. Standing still for a moment with the people you’re walking with takes your eyes away from the journey ahead of you. When we’re dealing with the Christian’s spiritual journey, focus is paramount.

Finally, David paints a picture of someone who has gone from walking along with the wicked to sitting down with them, keeping close company with people who mock the ways of God.

First, look at how seamlessly the transition happens. It’s easy to go from walking with someone to sitting with them. After all, who doesn’t long for a nice break after a lengthy walk? Spiritually speaking, which is what David was doing here, the process is similar.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with having friends who are unsaved. Moreover, you can’t really stop yourself from having family members who don’t believe in Christ. However, you can control how much influence those people have over your life. How much more time do you spend with unbelievers than you do fellow disciples? The answer to this question can help you determine just how much of a risk you’re taking.

David doesn’t come straight out and discuss what happens to those who choose to surround themselves with the wicked, the sinners, and the mockers. However, he does outline what happens when you surround yourself with other believers. With that in mind, it’s safe for us to assume that the opposite is true for those who are most closely encircled by unbelievers.

The person who doesn’t fall into the trap of making unbelievers the closest people to them have the luxury of being like a tree planted by the waters. A planted tree, especially one that is near the water, has a strong root system. This makes the tree virtually indestructible no matter how strong of a storm the tree encounters. When you surround yourself with Godly people, your root system improves. Instead of being shaken by the adversity that we all face, you have a Godly network of people who can help hold you up. When you’re closely surrounded by unbelievers, you are likely to be shaken with fear and doubt when facing adversity.

Additionally, David said that when a tree is rooted near the water, that tree’s leaves don’t wither. That is to say that there is a constant source of life flowing through the tree. In the same vein, when you surround yourself with Godly people, you have people in your corner who can speak life to you in any circumstance. When you don’t have that, you don’t have a steady supreme of life-giving encouragement.

Finally, David said that whatever the tree does prospers when it is rooted by the waters. That means that when the tree (the person) isn’t rooted by the waters (other believers), it cannot thrive the way its Creator wanted it to. You cannot live up to your spiritual potential and thrive the way God wants you to if the leading voices in your life are the voices of unbelievers.

It’s important that we befriend the lost in the name of winning them to the Kingdom. However, it’s even more important that your closest circle is made up of believers who are as focused on God’s Kingdom as you are.

A Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the people that You have already placed in my life. I know that each relationship I have is there for a purpose. Today, I ask You to help me surround myself with people who are also pursuing You and Your Kingdom. If there are relationships I need to adjust, show them to me. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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