“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'”
(1 Cor 15:33)
At the 7mGen youth program last week a young person asked me how to categorize relationships. A great question! Who should I have as friends?
The parable of “The Good Samaritan” came to mind. Right away I realized Jesus had addressed this question when a man shot it to Him from the crowd… “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus turned it back by telling a story about a man who fell among thieves and was dying on the side of the road till the Samaritan passed by. Adding a slight dig to the religious hypocrisy of the day, Jesus had a pious Levite and Priest pass by the poor fellow and cross over to the other side of the street to avoid him. The Samaritan brought the man to a hotel and covered his expenses till he recovered. Then Jesus, ever the master teacher asked – “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” Who was friend to the man who fell among thieves?
The one who showed mercy.
The question may not be “who should be my friend?” but rather, “how does a friend act?”
Here are three levels of RELATIONSHIP to consider:
Level #1 FRIENDSHIP. A believer’s disposition should be friendly toward all. Looking for the one who needs a humane touch, a deposit of mercy. The Samaritan demonstrated he was a “friend” by how he handled someone in need.
Not all people are the same, however and you need to discern their spirits if possible. Dr. Henry Cloud suggests three categories of people in the Bible: the wise, the foolish and the evil.
Level #2. FELLOWSHIP. This is a level higher than friendship where you open up your heart and life. There is a sacred exchange that takes place at this level between hearts and souls. It is at this level that we are refreshed and sharpened, based on the company we keep.
There are many friends, fewer in fellowship and fewest in the third highest level….
Level #3 COVENANT. These are the people who rise out of fellowship to a place where you have a common bond, perhaps an assignment of some sort that ties you together. Jesus shared this level of intensity with a small group. In the crush of all three groups needing something, these people are moved to the top of your list of concerns.
If the company you keep is not moving you forward, they are most likely holding you back. Hard as it may be for some, make the decision to walk only with those who cause you to show up as your best self. These are those who accept you totally and unconditionally on one hand, and on the other, require you to live up to your star potential and confront you when you are playing small.
In any two-party relationship one person is influencing the other. Make sure you know who is influencing whom.
And I deeply appreciate that many of you allow me to enter the sacred space of a writer you read. I steward this trust carefully.
–Pruning is painful sometimes. Remove the branches (relationships) that suck away your strength.