Choosing Our Companions
All that we are in life, we learned. Our characteristics are largely due to the environment in which we were reared. The cliché, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is indicative of the influence parents have on their children. Being a “chip off the old block” could be either positive or negative. As we grow to maturity, various situations and events surround us. Our likes and dislikes are formed. We learn to love certain things while we learn to hate other things.
When God created man, he gave him laws by which to live. The first written law, given by God to the Hebrew nation, indicated that the statutes commanded by Jehovah were given “for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6.24). It was in order to preserve Israel alive that God gave laws to govern them. When Jehovah brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, he told Moses, “Assemble me the people, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4.10-). Jehovah was concerned about the influence the nations round about Israel would have on them. Jehovah cautioned Israel, “When thou art come into the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations…or whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto Jehovah and because of these abominations Jehovah thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 18.9,12).
Christians are given a similar warning: “Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Corinthians 15.33). The truth of this manifested itself even in the life of the wisest of men, Solomon. To him God said, “I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; so that there heath been none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall nay arise like unto thee” (1 Kings 3.12). However, Solomon “loved many foreign women…concerning which Jehovah said…’Ye shall not go among them neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.’ Solomon clave unto these in love” and “it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11.1-2,4). As it happened to Solomon, Israel had earlier suffered from evil companionships.
Hundreds of years after the time of Solomon, the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity and “married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab” (Nehemiah 13.23), the same nations with whom Jehovah warned them not to form covenants. As a result of these unions, their “children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people” (Nehemiah 13.26). Marriage is not to be entered into without consideration of existing differences in religious convictions. The companionships we choose in life will either lead us to God, or away from him.
There are areas other than marriage in which we should choose our companions wisely. The proverbs of Solomon set this forth. Solomon advised, “Make no friendship with a man that is given to anger; and with a wrathful man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22.24-25). We need to be cautions, even of a brother in Christ (Exodus 23.2; Psalm 1.1; 1 Corinthians 5.11).
Continued companionship with those who are given to amoral behaviors, who lack self-discipline, or who scoff at reuse will have the same effect as it had on the children of Israel and Solomon.The potency of “a little leaven (evil)” on a lump is clear. How much more so when we subject ourselves to a constant bombardment of evil influences? We need to recognize the nature of our own hunger, for it is true that hunger drives us (Proverbs 16.26). With what do we surround ourselves? What do we allow to enter our minds? Do we desire carnal or spiritual things? The Lord tells us that he will measure to us knowledge as we measure attention to him and to spiritual things. If we give our time and attention to the physical, then we will perish. Parents want the best for their children, and Jehovah wants the best for his children as well. Jehovah would have us to be free from sin that devastates so many lives (Romans 6.11). Acknowledge the truth stated in Romans 6.16-17.
Just as we learn to do evil, we can learn to do good. Wise companions are a source of strength (Proverbs 27.17). Pursue the companionship of the Psalmist who stated, “With my whole heart have I sought thee: Oh let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119.10-11).