“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” – Charles Spurgeon
Over the past few weeks we examined practical reasons that we allow our minds to slip into worldliness. We’ve looked at why and how we can slide into this from neglecting core habits, as well as practical things we can do to prevent it such as examining our morning routines and social media and tv consumption. This week we move on to the last portion of the series, and look at our friendships and the company we keep.
Though this has been a fairly practical series, I believe that for any and all Christians there is fruit to be found in our labor in these areas! We can’t allow ourselves to undervalue the significance of this topic.
Simply put, our regard for the implications of worldliness will dramatically determine the way we live each and every day. Even the wisest of men in the faith are susceptible to temptation and engagement in the mental lapse of worldly living. For it can be said that as our sinful passions are aroused by the law (Romans 7:5), and so will they easily be aroused and nurtured when accompanied by weightless aspirations. With all of that said, let’s take a look at one more crucial piece of the puzzle.
3.) Examining Our Friendships And Company We Keep
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)
This safety can only be a reality in our lives if these counselors are of good character. Having many people who are willing to invest their time into your life and care deeply for you doesn’t guarantee that you’re safe with them.
Find The Good Ones
The qualities which we value and desire to grow in should be consistently displayed in the character of those who counsel us. Our counsel will greatly affect the manner in which we defend ourselves from the deceiver of men. So, what are we really looking for when evaluating and seeking potential counsel?
Practically speaking, their very lives should grasp your attention because of the way they stand in such opposition to our secular culture.
Do they blend in with those outside of the church? Do they spend both their time and money on the same things as the rest of the world? Do they deny themselves and, as a result, count the needs of the church to be of more value than their own? (Matthew 16:24, Acts 4:32-37)
Do they have the courage to lovingly confront others when they’re in the wrong? Love and truth can’t exist without each other. They coexist or they both cease to exist at all.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
The type of iron that will sharpen and shape us into maturity and humility will be both loving and relentlessly truthful.
When it comes to who we spend the most time with, we need to strive to surround ourselves with people that are willing to share in a gospel-driven fellowship – as in Biblical standards and definitions of fellowship and not just the latest pop-christianity small group activity.
In regard to scripture knowledge and outward appearances, Thomas Watson commented on Matthew 6:5 by describing the heart motive of men who’s mature appearances don’t reflect God glorifying intentions:
“[They desire] that they may be seen of men. That they may be set upon a theatre for others to admire and canonize them. The oil of vainglory feeds their lamp. How many by the wind of popular breath have been blown to hell! Whom the devil cannot destroy by intemperance, he does by vainglory.” – Thomas Watson
We must be diligent to keep ourselves from such men and for some of us this can be more difficult than it sounds.
Make The Tough Decisions
Maybe there simply aren’t many mature Christians around us. Maybe we’ve invested years into friendships which actually haven’t proved fruitful and it’s still difficult to let them go – relationships that are not aiding in the production of an upward trajectory in the growth of our faith.
What we value most in life will determine the way we handle these situations.
If we truly view Christ as the supreme prize, the brightest treasure, and find that the bottomless depth of His glory is our only boast, then we will do what is necessary to remove stumbling blocks relationships from our lives.
Submit To Godly Authority And Be It For Others
Submission, trust, and humility toward our elders and leaders in our local church plays a sizable role in these choices.
As Proverbs 11:14 says, “there is safety to be found in guidance.”
There is safety from the deceitful influence of the devil and prevention of lusting after the lost world which he has blindfolded. (2 Corinthians 4:4.)
This doesn’t mean that we are only to share in discipleship with those who are of equal measure of maturity as we are, but it should mean that we are intentional in the friendships we build with believers in all stages of biblical maturity.
If you’re fairly young in your faith, don’t intentionally surround yourself with others in similar stages merely because they are less likely to confront your sin.
Likewise, if by the grace of God you’ve matured and grown in your faith then don’t dare avoid those who are in need of spiritual milk. (1 Corinthians 3:2)
The man who is most Biblically attentive should be the most sacrificially loving.
We are meant to share in all types of seasons, to “love one another with brotherly affection, outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10.) To “Contribute to the needs of the saints” (Romans 12:13.)
Pray For Good Friendships And Take Action
Praise God for the seemingly simple gift of friendship! Praise God for the gift of good counsel.
Let us pray for godly men and women to enter our lives and be actively seeking ways in which we can direct the affections of those around us toward the supreme Counselor. (Isaiah 9:6)
Let us also pray that our Lord will convince us of our desperate need for community and fellowship within the body of Christ even if it means that he abruptly takes people out of them to accomplish this. It may be painful, but know that God loves His own so much that he’ll break them down, strip them of their idols, and restore their souls to awestruck praise of His name.
“Until conviction is transformed into action, it makes no difference in the world.” – Al Mohler
The bottom line is this, it does us no good to merely be aware of possible ways that we are in danger of falling into sin through temptation of the world and then take no action. It will be a struggle, and we truly need to surround ourselves with those who are willing to fight this fight of faith by our side.
The devil will thrive in the mind that stands idle. However, when we commit to fighting worldliness on battlefields such as these, I believe we make significant ground in the overall state of protection in our hearts from the seduction of society.
There are endless ways that we can allow the enemy to corrupt our hunger for holiness, but as I mentioned earlier, what we’ve discussed in this series are pivotal, practical habits as they apply to daily living and are places which sanctification will be most evident. This is a fight that is on our doorstep and we can either engage or fall back.
We must not allow ourselves to forget that if God is indeed to increase (John 3:30), then our infatuation with the world must decrease.
I’ve really enjoyed this series and the feedback from everybody who has followed along. We would love to get your thoughts on it, how it has affected you, and what changes you think you can make in both your life and the lives of those around you!?