Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Romans 16:17 NLT
“Don’t drink or chew or hang around with those who do.”
Mom and Dad reared me in a Christian home with a very strict—almost legalistic—view of right and wrong. Smoking was one of the questionable activities. My parents told me not to, but more so for the health concerns than for the sinful nature of it. Drinking and drugs, on the other hand, stood out as sinful acts. And sex before marriage? Fornication, Dad called it. Out, too.
Sunday was an issue as well. Other than Mom cooking—most of which she did on Saturday night—no work took place on this sacred day. No shopping—which wasn’t a problem at that time since nothing but drug stores and gas stations were open. No working, no sports, no washing clothes, no working in the yard, no hanging pictures. Sunday was church day.
And, of course, I shouldn’t hang around with anyone who did any of these things or who came from families where parents did them. Like the sign that reads, “Wet paint. Don’t touch,” all the don’ts made me want to do.
Looking back, my life seemed more about what I couldn’t do than what I could do. Later, I realized the need existed for the don’t rules. Quite a few of them dot the pages of the Bible, including Paul’s admonition to the Roman Christians to avoid those who cause divisions and teach false doctrine.
Bad company carries the very real possibility of corrupting good morals. Yet Jesus tells us to be light to the world, which can’t happen if I don't stay away from those who are doing the don’ts. Peer pressure taxes even the best of believers, and it doesn’t evaporate when we graduate from high school or college.
Staying away yet influencing takes walking a fine line, and it requires spiritual fortitude and godly wisdom. All of which God is more than happy to impart when we ask and do our part. The spiritual acts of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers hone our spiritual skills so we can influence without being influenced.
Paul and Jesus’ command isn’t contradictory, just issued in different contexts. God will give you the power to stay away when needed and to get involved when He wants you. Ask Him for wisdom. He's more than happy to give it.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom to know when and when not to stay away.
Tweetable: Are you staying away from bad company?