- Who are you following?
- Who are you connecting with?
- Who are you collecting?
As we consider the people we are connecting with, I'd like us to think about how they are affecting us. As with question 1, "Who are you following?", our lives can begin to mirror those we spend the most time with and this group is often the one with whom we spend the majority of our time whether we like it or not.
The Bible speaks many times about the affect others can have on us. I Corinthians 15:33 - "Do not be deceived, 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'" Proverbs 22:24-25 "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul." People can influence us by their direct efforts or by their secret, silent influence by their words, conversation and example. Television, media, books, music all have an affect on us in some way. Do you recall the first homosexual character on television? He was made to be funny, laughable, and you weren't really sure if that's what he was supposed to be a homosexual or not. Now, they are mainstream, in almost every television show, commercial and movie. We've become more soft to the sin of homosexuality and it doesn't seem as dangerous. Consider fornication, lasciviousness, drinking, bad language, etc. The more we are in the company of the worldly, the more worldly we can become.
We often look at just the first part of this verse; 2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Paul urges Timothy here to pursue those good things with good companions - those who are living a Christian life with a pure heart. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is a great passage about friends. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he flals, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him, and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." There is power in associating with like-minded people, and there is power in associating with those who are worldly.
Consider for a minute the top 5 people you spend the most of your time with. If you have children at home, you can count them as 1 person for this exercise. These people may be your husband, parents, co-worker, friends, or whoever you spend the most of your time. What affect do these people have on your life? Are they basement people? Pulling you down towards the cesspool where they live? Or, are those 5 people balcony people?, challenging you to live to your best, helping you along the way with encouragement, smiles and even a hand when you need it.? The balcony people help you rise up to meet the challenges in life. Are these people helping you be more Christ-like or less like Christ?
There is a great challenge we have living in the world to not become worldly. I John 2:15-17 reminds us to not love the world or the things in the world. Romans 12:1-2 however lets us know that we are presenting our lives as a sacrifice to God. We are to be holy, and acceptable, not conforming to the world, but being transformed. The difficulty in this lies in the fact that sometimes in our lives, we are placed in situations where we cannot control who we are associating with. What we can control is the degree of association, remembering to reach up to Christ, who we are following (Question 1) and renewing our mind with His words. There are times where we must change our circumstances and separate from those who are a negative influence on us.
I hope this second question has made you think. Please take a minute and do the exercise of your top 5 - you may be shocked at how much affect those 5 individuals have on your life.