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Keeping the Right Company


Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
1 Corinthians 15:33

Those who know and love the game of baseball are familiar with the name Casey Stengel, one time manager of the New York Yankees. When Billy Martin took the reins of that franchise, Stengel had some interesting advice for him. He said, "Billy, on any team there will be fifteen guys who will run through a wall for you, five who will hate you, and five who are undecided." Stengel went on to say, "When you make out your rooming list, always room the losers together. Never room a good guy with a loser. It won't spread if you keep them isolated."

Keeping the right company is not only a key to success on the sports field; it is also a key factor to success in life. Paul warns the Corinthians, "Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits'" (1 Cor. 15:33). The book of Proverbs also underscores this by stating, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Prov. 13:20). Both these verses remind us that the people we hang out with will influence us for good or for bad. They will either push us in the direction of the narrow road that leads to life or they will turn us toward the broad road that leads to destruction. If we surround ourselves with people who are positive, godly, wise, and authentic they will add to our health, holiness, and happiness immensely. But if we keep company with those who are feckless, faithless, and foolish our lives will take a turn for the worse. That is why it is extremely important in life to choose the right friends and reject the wrong friends. And by the way, there is a vast difference between helping people in need or even in disobedience, and making them a close friend.

In Proverbs 12:26 we read, "the righteous should choose his friends carefully." In the Hebrew text, the word for choosing pictures a man spying out land for purchase. The wise person therefore explores and evaluates prospective friendships; for friendship is a true treasure, but it is costly when a poor choice is made. The company we keep not only tells a lot about us, it goes a long way in predicting the future. Real friends add to our lives, but poor friends subtract from our lives. We need to be alert to the fact that there are people in this world who fill our tanks, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, but there are those who are also a total drain on our lives. The latter is more than happy to stick a hose in our tank, draw a breath, and start siphoning our joy, peace, goodness, and purpose in life. While we are called to love the person who is a killjoy, stinker, and deadweight, we must also guard our hearts and keep that person outside the circle of true friendship.

If that seems harsh let me remind you that the Bible tells us to keep our distance regarding certain people. Firstly, we are to avoid those who gossip (Prov. 20:19); secondly, we are to avoid those who are angry (Prov. 22:24-25); thirdly, we are to avoid those who are disloyal (Prov. 24:21-22); fourthly, we are to avoid those who are greedy and self-indulgent (Prov. 28:7); and finally we are to avoid those who are immoral (Prov. 29:3). Some people are like an infectious disease, be on guard!