I’ve begun writing my second book – a men’s devotional written in my own unique style. I thought I’d share an entry and see what you think!

“Bad company corrupts good character.”

1 Corinthians 15:33

Ooh, this one is so true!! And I’m not talking about joining a gang and being around a bunch of thugs. No, for most of us our good character gets corrupted by being around either unbelievers or “nominal” Christians not practicing their faith.

Here’s the reality of this verse: we tend to follow the crowd because we want to fit and find acceptance. We’ve been doing it since we were kids and we still do it as adults. It’s actually a psychological need we have to be part of a group. But scripture tells us clearly to hang around our own kind because when we stray we’re going to backslide.

I know for me this is especially true when I get around other men, especially military men or veterans. Immediately I break out into my old language and start cussing. I don’t know why I do it, but it just happens naturally. I know full well that scripture tells me not to do it – I’m not supposed to use foul or abusive language (Ephesians 4:29) – but get me around a bunch of guys and it starts! And the really bad part is I’m the one who usually instigates it so I’m the bad company!!!

What about you? Do you get around a certain group of people and find yourself doing the things you swore off for Christ? Anger? Strip clubs? Gambling? Swearing? Arrogance? Misogyny (debasing women)? Harshness toward your wife? Excessive alcohol? Illegal drugs? Rebellion against God? What’s your vice? Where do you fall when you get around the wrong folks?

I’ve seen this so many times, even by people in our church. You’ll see someone doing really great – coming to church weekly, hitting the mid-week Bible studies and other events. Then you will notice they miss a couple of weeks in a row. You’ll call and they’ll have some excuse why they missed and they promise to show up the next week but don’t. Weeks turn to months and then you find out they’re drinking again, or doing heroine again, or a woman has a new abusive boyfriend who won’t let her come to church, or some other story. It’s just tragic and all the more so because it can be avoided simply by not getting yourself mixed up in personal relationships with people with bad character.

Now here’s what I get from people when I say this, “But what about Jesus? He ate with sinners and hung around tax collectors and prostitutes!” First of all, you’re not Jesus so shut up. Second, Jesus wasn’t “hanging around” them to be part of their group; He was hanging around them to convince them to become part of HIS group. As Christians we are absolutely commanded to go out and talk with the lost about coming home to God. But we’re not supposed to join them in what they’re doing.

Jesus was awesome at this because He was never tempted to join the sinners in their activities. But like I said, we’re not Jesus. If you have an addiction issue you may not be strong enough to go to a meth house and preach the word without being tempted to join in! If you have a porn issue you’re probably not the right person to attend a “Strippers for Jesus” meeting. Once you have complete mastery over a sin is when you can meet with similar sinners to share with them your victory through Christ, but not before!

Instead you should surround yourself with like-minded people and as difficult as it is distance yourself from those who are not like-minded. My wife and I have done this in our life and I’ll be honest and tell you it’s painful. Before deciding to seriously follow our faith we had great friends who were just living their lives like everyone else, but not living their lives in a way we would call Godly. But as we became serious about following God we realized that our friends’ ways were wrong for us and we just couldn’t be around that. Don’t get me wrong, we still love these people but we’re not spending time with them because they are not interested in living like we do and we aren’t interested in living like they do. I’m sure they don’t understand and think we’ve become “Jesus Freaks” and worse for my wife’s friends who most likely think her husband brain washed her! But my wife and I both know that God understands which is really all that matters.

So how about you? Got some friends that could be considered bad company in the sense that they tempt you to backslide in areas of your life? Have you talked with them about it? Have you asked them not to do the things they do when you are around? Have you tried to mitigate the situation? And if that didn’t work are you willing to put some distance between you and the bad company that could corrupt you?

Honestly what we all want to do is convert our friends to our way of thinking, but we all know that that is not always realistic. So think about changing your thinking. Instead of asking, “How close to sin can I get without going over the line?” Ask yourself this question, “How far from sin can I run?”