Choices. Life is full of choices. We choose whether to get up in the morning and when. Then we choose what to wear, what to eat, what to do, where to go. Somewhere in all of that choosing, we choose our companions. The book of Proverbs in the Bible has quite a lot to say about our companions. For instance, Proverbs 13:20-"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Another verse that is pertinent: 1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP - "Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character."
When my kids were young, we had a cassette tape by The Bill Gaither Trio titled L.I.F.E. On that album was a song called "Primary Data." Maybe some of you reading this have heard the song. It's a good one and I wish I could get my hands on a copy. Part of the lyrics went like this, "...input, output, what goes in is what comes out; input, output, that is what it's all about. Input, output, your mind is a computer whose input output daily you must choose. Let the Bible be your primary feed; it's got all the data you need..."
I've been thinking about that song and the connection between the input we receive from various companionships/associations and the level of trusting obedience to the LORD which we manifest in our lives. The world we live in is filled with all sorts of possible companions--music, movies, TV shows, magazines, books, internet sites, and all sorts of other media, as well as actual people. Even things that may seem "good" or "okay" can draw us away from our first love or distract us from the work that the LORD would have us doing.
You've probably heard that saying, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." Leaven is used to portray sin in Scripture. If you've ever baked bread or watched bread being made, you know that it takes just a little bit of yeast to make a batch of 2 or 3 loaves rise into nice tasty bread. Likewise, when we listen to that song about illicit sex or watch a movie where two people who are not married to each other are involved sexually with each other or listen to jokes that may be just a little "off," thoughts take root. We might be more inclined to yield to the temptation to imitate what we have seen or heard. Or we could become dissatisfied with the spouse we have because he/she isn't as sexy or romantic or whatever as the man/woman we saw in that movie. Or maybe we just become more desensitized to sin. It doesn't seem to take much desensitizing and before we know it, we're tolerating all sorts of sin in ourselves and in our brothers & sisters of faith.
That's how we become powerless believers who look no different from anyone else in the world. That's how Christians can have divorce rates that rival non-Christians. That's how Christians can lie and cheat and steal and commit all sorts of sins and not even think twice about it.
James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
Jas 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Jas 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Jas 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."
It all starts with a choice. What kind of input, what kind of "companions" will we choose?
2Ti 2:21 AMP So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.
2Ti 2:22 AMP Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.