“Bad company corrupts good character.” Paul cites this Greek insight in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth (chapter 15). It’s not the only time the Bible warns us about being led astray by others. Paul cautions us in 2 Corinthians not to be yoked with unbelievers. In Joshua 23 the old warrior admonishes the Israelites to be faithful to the Lord and warns them of the consequence of compromise with the religions of the people living around them. Proverbs is full of instruction regarding our character and how easily we can be led astray, if we do not guard our steps.
More positively, we read how iron sharpens iron. Accordingly, Jesus gives us the gift of the church, a people of worship, fellowship, and service, who exist for God’s glory and the good of the world. In Christ we are God’s saints and we are to commune with one another, celebrating our redemption and the reign of Christ and serving those in need. Indeed, the homilist in Hebrews urges us to keep meeting together and encouraging one another. All of this is good advice for those who keep at least one eye on things eternal.
Jesus, of course, reminds us of the big picture. In John 17 he tells us eternal life is knowing God and the one he has sent. Ultimately, it is his company we seek and our earthly company has the potential to influence for good or bad that relationship, the one that defines all others. I like the faithfulness of English Puritan John Preston who was asked in his final hours if he feared death now that it was so imminent. “No,” he was said to have whispered, “I shall change my place, but I shall not change my company” (Packer Affirming the Apostles’ Creed). May we be found to be so faithful. May we be found to have kept such good company.
And that, my friends, reminds me I need to go pray!