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How to Love Bad Company

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

1 Corinthians 15:33

During February, in The Forever Notebook, I devoted considerable attention to the subject of love. God wants us to love everybody, even our enemies. But…as we are taught in today’s focus passage, in the process of loving everybody, some of them need to be kept at a distance.

My wife grew up on a farm where they grew apples. She gave me insight on the old expression about “one bad apple.” Her grandfather kept his apples in underground bins. At least once per month he inspected the stored crop for bruises and decay. Sure enough, just one bad apple could spoil the whole bunch.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, he addressed many concerns including ungodly behavior, incorrect doctrine, and pagan practices within the church body. Their divisive problems were largely the result of their association with “bad company.”

Paul’s reference to “character” is directed at behavior  that follows Christian teaching and practice which can be corrupted by improper associations.

In a second letter to the church, Paul said, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Our relationships influence our thinking and our behavior. Like you told your kids, “Choose your friends wisely.”

Does that mean that a Christian should not marry a non-Christian? Does it mean you shouldn’t have non-Christian friends? I’ll answer those questions with a question. Can you participate in those relationships and remain unchanged and unwavering in your Christian faith and witness?

Obviously, there are relationships with non-Christians that are unavoidable.

My son, Michael, jokes that he grew up in Mayberry. That’s his description of home-life with his mom and dad. He’s a police officer and has encountered another side of life that is dark, dangerous, and evil. The nature of his work requires contact with “bad company.” But that’s not who he hangs with or allows to influence his relationship to God.

I grew up in a small town in the 60s, not all that different from Mayberry. When I left home for the first time to join the Navy, I was in for a rude awakening. The culture was far from the wholesome environment from which I had come. But I soon discovered that even in that radically different setting, there were those who shared my faith. They were the ones with whom I chose to hang out.

Treat everyone with respect and kindness. But keep “bad company” at a distance.

“Bad company” doesn’t come only in human form. It is also found in ideologies, religious beliefs, and thinking contrary to Christian doctrine.

Christianity and witchcraft don’t mix. Satan worship and belief in God cannot be intertwined. Secular humanism, agnosticism,  and Christianity cannot coexist. In fact, the mingling of any views contrary to, or similar to, Christian doctrine is void of saving faith. It is not Christianity at all. It’s like that oath taken in court. “The whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.” Nothing else will do.

Just as you lock your doors at night for protection, you should also guard your heart and mind. (Philippians 4:7)

Be kind. Be respectful. Give Christian love. But keep “bad company” at a distance.

For more on this topic, check out this article: Beware of Argumentative Christians

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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