Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Power Of Relationships

The Power of Relationships


My father and mother is with our Lord. Their love for the Lord and for me and my nine brothers and sisters have been the greatest influence in my life. As always, I am always thankful for their godly influence in my life………… Steve


As a kid my dad used to tell me, “Son be careful who you run around with they can influence you to do things that your mom a I have taught you not to do.” He, being wise, understood that no man lived unto themselves but that all of our contacts with others inevitably influence us one way or another. He knew that those we imitate influence us “pouring into and upon” us their thoughts and actions. He also understood the thoughts and actions of the people influencing us could be right and proper or they could be wrong and sinful since those we imitate can be bad influences to us if they pour into us He was concerned that this would cause me to sin.



THE POWER OF INFLUENCES:


Influences are powerful and are inevitable in each of our lives. We are socially interdependent creatures and we are not an island unto ourselves. God created us social beings and influences that come from others are very powerful in our lives. God holds us responsible to avoid evil influences and to seek out edifying ones. As we make friends and acquaintances our lives will be affected for good or bad. It is God’s will that we imitate other people. It is how God created us! We have been adequately forewarned and we are to “be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (I Cor. 15:33) Therefore we need to avoid bad company and seek positive godly friends and influences. The influences we choose whether good or bad, consciously or unconsciously, are a matter of personal choice. They have personal consequences. If we link ourselves with someone that is bad and sinful there will be bad influences poured upon is. When we sin because of choosing the wrong person to imitate we have no right to say “the devil made me do it”, or my friend Sally (or Fred) made me do it.” We should repent, confess our sin and seek forgiveness. Part of our repentance is that we are to seek proper friends and relationships since we will now accept our accountability for how we are influenced.



DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED



Since we are influenced by, and imitate those, we have relationships with, and since the Bible calls us to godly relationships, it is important that we are not unequally yoked (believers w/ unbelievers). It is important that Christians establish relationships such as friends, spouses, business partners and any other acquaintances in the context of a Christian worldview. Therefore the friends we choose need to care about living out their lives to the glory of God. Our friends need to be members of the Church, faithful in the study and application of the scriptures and people that will exert a positive influence in our lives.


"Not yoked with the world”


We are not to be unequally yoked with the world. Christianity and the world have different morals and values. Even so we must have limited contact and relationships with the world since we are still in the world. We must live, work, and do business with those that are not believers. We cannot avoid the world altogether since we need others competences, skills and abilities in many areas of life. However the world is to be avoided in its unchristian philosophies, morals and ethics so that we are not influenced by them and become corrupted. The we are to work with the world in areas of business and commerce and in such a manner that we can be witnesses for our Lord.



I wrote to you in my letter not to get mixed up with those who are sexually immoral; not that you shouldn't have anything whatever to do with the sexualy immoral of this world (or with greedy persons, or robbers, or idolaters) since to do that you would have to leave the world altogether.But now let me explain that- what I wrote was that you must not get mixedup with any so-called brother who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkkard or a robber; you must not even eai with a person like that. (1 Cor. 5:9-11)b. Not yoked with those under church discipline



We are not to have fellowship or be unequally yoked with Christians that are under Church discipline and remaining unrepentant. We are to look out for and mark these folks so tht we not become yoked to such a person. Matthew chapter 18 instructs us that there is no true fellowship with someone who remains unrepentant and we must not get mixed up with them. Compare also Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians in 3:14,15 of his letter:



Now, whoever doesn't obey what we say in this letter, mark that person and don't mix with him so that he may become ashamed of himself. And yet, don't regard him as an enemy, but rather counsel him as a brother.



WE DO IMITATE OTHERS:



We are created to imitate others. It is a basic characteristic of life. That’s how God created us and that is assumed by the writers of scripture. John, knowing this, called for his friend to be responsible and to imitate good and not evil (III John). Imitating others is a part of the learning process in life. Infants and small children learn by imitating their moms, dads, or sitter. As they grow and enter school they imitate their teachers, school and church friends. In college and later in life the influences come from professors, close friends, spouses, work friends and people in the church. It is clear that as created much of what we learn comes through imitation, in childhood and throughout life.



BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD MORALS:



Sinful influences in ones life affects ones worship of God, ones work ethic and ones marriage. For example whenever a couple or one spouse develops a close tie with someone whose influence issinful it will inevitably affect the marriage for ill. I knew a couple that together were influenced by an evil person to such a degrading level to have another person enter their marriage bed. Suffice it to say that soon after the marriage ended, their home was lost, the parties ended up living for awhile on the street, the kids were disbursed, etc. Bad company corrupts good morals. Remember this and write it on the doorposts of your house. Sin will take you down the road father than you ever want to go, keep you longer than you ever want to stay and cost you more than you intend to spend.



If someone begins having problems in their life one thing to be aware of is their friends, associates, children and the influences they may be having in one’s life:

a. Teenager trouble - If teenagers who are they hanging out and talking with. Are they being influenced to “experiment” with drugs, abuse of alcohol sex, etc. Teenagers influence other teenagers – big time! This can cause dishonoring to parents, crime, addictions and sexual problems.



b. Marriage trouble – Are there inappropriate influences from the in-laws? Are the Children influencing you and turn ing you against your spouse? Is the wife of a couple listening to other women who are talking about their husbands. My wife and I have seen this type of “stuff” happen in a woman’s groups in one local church years ago. Is a husband listening to sexual jokes and sexual escapades by office friends? Is one spouse keeping inappropriate time with someone of the other sex swapping family problems? This things cause marriage troubles and is not corrected bust marriages!



c. Work or labor trouble – Is the person hanging out at work with people that grumble, are malcontent and do not respect authority? Are you work friends people that miss work, or seek to get out of work by not doing what they are hired to do? Sinful influences will pull you away from the biblical work ethic!



CAUTION - DON’T BE MISLED:



Now we must be on our guard. We all are influenced and led by others. We are to ensure that we are not misled. You may think you are a strong tower and can withstand any influencing “winds of life” that blow your way. You may even think that you can spend time to help a person of evil doing or ill repute as you “seek to help” him or her. Or you may think that you can be a “friend” of a person that does evil without being influenced by it BUT YOU CANNOT. Either ever so slowly or by not being able to handle “felt pressure” your good practices and habits erode causing you sadly to end up doing what you normally would not do. Therefore, tape this to the frontal lobes of your mind and do not forget this protective warning and command of God – “Don't be misled; "Bad companions corrupt good habits." (I Cor. 15:33)



Companions and friendships with evil people will not only influence you but they will “corrupt good habits." (1 Cor. 15:33) That is that which is already established in your character which is good and honoring to God they can and will rip from you. Paul urges the Romans Church brethren “to watch out for those who, by disregarding the teaching that you have learned, cause divisions and give occasion for stumbling. Such people do not serve our Lord Christ as bondservants, but are slaves of their own appetites; and by fine talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Rom. 16:16, 17) Wrong evil and sinful companions, through flattery and deceit, cause divisions in life amongst moms and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, churches, good friendships, etc.



WISDOM CALLS FOR PERSONAL APPLICATION:



The message of wisdom is proclaimed over and over in both the Old and New Testaments. That message is simple, “Keep away from those that live displeasing to God or they will corrupt you.”

Don't be misled; "Bad companions corrupt good habits. (I Cor. 15:33)

Quit the company of the simple and live (Prov. 9:6).

The companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).

Do not associate with one given to anger, and with a wrathful man do not keep company, lest you leam his ways and fall into a trap (Prov. 22:24).

Be not among the winebibbers, among gluttonous eaters of flesh (Prov. 23:20).

The partner of a thief hates himself; he heard the curse, but says nothing (Prov.29:24).

With a warning and the call of wisdom, there needs to be a response from each of us. That response, while it may be difficult to carry out is also simple in application – Watch out for bad people and influences, don’t be taken in by their flattery and cunning fables and deceit. Put away from you any relationship that is now or will be a bad influence in order to build friendships and companions of godly character.



Can you list some good influential friendships within Scripture:



1. Paul and Timothy
2. ________________________
3. ________________________
4. ________________________
5. ________________________


Can you list bad influential friendships within Scripture:


1. ________________________
2. ________________________
3. ________________________
4. ________________________
5. ________________________


TAKE PERSONAL INVENTORY:


Here is something to do so that you can consider whether, and confirm if, your relationships in life are correct.

a. List as many people you can who have had an influence on you, either for good or for evil.


b. Identify your relationships now and list how they are influencing you now for either good or bad. If there are bad influences then take action to build new relationships with people that honor God, his Word and his people.

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