Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Walking with the Wise

For the month of March, we will seek the heart of the Lord through His word and explore how He meets us within the relationships we hold. While this month’s conversation will certainly be applicable within the context of small groups, I hope and pray that it may bless your involvement in any other ministries that you may also be a part of.

Walk With the Wise
Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Proverbs is a gold mine for one-liner nuggets of wisdom. 13:20 is an excellent stand-alone verse, however it becomes richer when viewed within the greater landscape of Solomon’s text. Throughout Proverbs we see a relationship between wisdom and a host of other values that he highlights, including discipline, knowledge, insight, and prudence (See 2:10, 3:21, 7:4, 8:1, 9:9-10, 13:1, etc.). According to the book The Habits of Highly Effective Churches, author George Barna explains that effective churches understand this principle in its prioritization of relationships. While they answer the call to the Great Commission and continuously pursue the practice of evangelism, churches that excel in community also have an understanding of the importance of who we are to keep company with (or in other words, who we share our lives with and who we spend the most time with). Barna notes from his research that effective churches assign an intentional hierarchy to their relationships: Jesus first, family second, fellow churchgoers third, and non-believers fourth.

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
While it would not be incorrect to share this proverbial verse on its own, we receive greater benefit when striving to understand its context. Right before this in verse 32, Paul revisits Isaiah 22:13, saying “If the dead are not raised, ’Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” By invoking this verse, Paul effectively brings with it the weight of Judah’s disregard for God’s dominion in all areas of our lives. Through Isaiah 22:8-13, we see a frenzied Judah that is scrambling to prepare militaristic defenses (They believed that they would soon be attacked by other nations after receiving word of Babylon’s fall). Through the fall of Babylon, the Lord was calling His people to a time of prayer and fasting. Instead, Judah dismantled its own city and then proceeded to throw a party with fatalistic flair, ignoring the Lord through the entire process.

So how does this tie in to 1 Corinthians 15:33 which reflects upon the overarching topic of the resurrection of the dead? If we choose to receive instruction from those who have no knowledge of God (15:34), then we will lose sight of the importance that the doctrine of resurrection holds within our Christian faith. If our own understanding of the resurrection and eternal life in Christ is abandoned, then we are inclined to live fatalistically and ignore the Lord amidst the ongoing struggles that we experience. And if we live fatalistically, then we have a flawed understanding as to why we are no longer condemned to live in sin, or why Jesus’ death paid the price for our sins (15:16-18).

Jesus Remains First and Foremost
When placing Proverbs 13:20 alongside this discussion from 1 Corinthians, Scripture shows us that as we continue to share our lives with bad company, we greatly increase the risk of adopting a life of sin. As a result, we resign ourselves to the spiritual reality of suffering harm, which inevitably impacts the lives of those that we care for as well. Let us implement a course correction now. Let us prioritize the time that we spend within the relationships we hold in our lives, making Jesus first and foremost.

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