My dad had a simple philosophy; “you are who you hang out with!” He would argue that if you hung out with complainers, you became a complainer. If you hung out with drinkers, you would become a drinker. If your friends did drugs, eventually you would too.
The other evening, at a men’s prayer group, one of the guys made an out of the blue statement. He said, “Wow! It is really great hanging out with a group of like-minded Christians!” I agree.
If Paul’s statement about bad company corrupting good morals is true, then it make sense that good company reinforces good morals.
Why is it, then, that we choose the wrong people to associate ourselves with?
I recall an incident from a few years ago at the jail where a young woman who had served time for drugs was being released. In the parking lot of the jail were two different cars with people that had come to pick her up. In one car were her parents, in the other her drug friends. These were the same friends that she was hanging out with when she was arrested months earlier.
Which group did she get choose to leave the jail with, her parents or friends? You guessed it, she got into the car with her friends! Three days later she was back in jail facing another drug charge, this one with an even greater consequence.
In the many years I have ministered to the incarcerated, I have met very few bad people. There are some, to be sure. But the majority of them are good people, who, simply, have made bad choices, bad choices in who they hang out with. Often, the best thing they can do when they are released is to make some new friends. Good friends, Positive friends.
The Apostle Paul, in the 19th chapter of Acts, entering Ephesus found only 12 men who believed in Jesus, and after baptizing them in Christ’s name, spent the next two years discussing Jesus with anyone who would listen. Remarkably, in just two years all of inhabitants of the province of Asia had heard the word of the Lord! And, that is without Facebook or Twitter!
Who do you spend the most time with? Is our Lord at the top of that list? Does he even make the top ten? Try to spend time with the people that lift you up, challenge you to be better, do more, care more, love more and pray more.
Growing up, I found myself attracted to people who were positive, caring, and had a close relationship with God. I walked away from many conversations with fellow students or workers that were negative or unproductive. I think my dad’s simple philosophy had a big effect on me, “who you associate with, is what you will become.”