“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.” 1 Corinthians 15:33-34
There is nothing wrong with spending time with people who don’t follow Jesus. But there is danger in doing so. Even Jesus spent time with sinners long ago, but He didn’t sin with them. There’s a difference. When we spend a lot of time with people who don’t follow Christ as we do, eventually, they can influence us to live in the same pattern of their lifestyle.
A quote says, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” I’m sure you have already heard this a hundred times. Unfortunately, we overlook its significance. As Christians, we must let God’s Word shape our thinking and acting, not the bad company surrounding us. Because apart from our sinful nature, we are also often influenced by our friends, co-workers, or even our relatives.
Problems like greed, selfishness, envy, pride, immorality, and unforgiveness become common in our daily lives. This is because of the bad company we surround ourselves with. We feel that it’s okay to nurture sin because everyone else is doing it. We think it’s alright to forsake God because everyone close to us is doing it. But we must never let our relationship with people cloud our discernment and reverence for God.
Our relationship with unbelievers should move us to influence them, not cause our faith to stumble. There is a big difference between accepting them for who they are and tolerating their wrongdoings. God accepts our past, present, and future sins, but it doesn’t mean that He wants us to stay the same and continue sinning. It doesn’t mean that He approves of everything we do. Acceptance is different from tolerance.
The same way we are supposed to spend time with people who don’t live godly lives. They will never understand our calling, but it doesn’t mean that we have to continue spending time with them to the point that it causes us to sin. We can accept them for who they are, but we cannot live the same way they do. Instead, we can influence them to start living a life that honors God.
Who do you spend most of your time with? Do they encourage you to grow more in love with Jesus? Or is it the other way around?