The Power of Partnership
Author: Andy Robbins
Sometimes a discussion on associations can be a sticky one.
The book of Proverbs instructs, “Those who walk with the wise become wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
How, then, do we effect people’s lives not yet in the faith without interacting with them? Wasn’t Jesus “a companion of prostitues and sinners?”
Good questions. The answer is that Jesus made a habit of hanging out with people who KNEW they were in spiritual trouble, and who sought his forgiveness and restoration. He didn’t turn anyone away regardless of their sordid past so long as they were repentant. It was the spiritually smug people, however, that He was very hard on, calling them white washed tombs and sons of hell. Whew! Jesus doesn’t like hypocrisy, but he was merciful to those who knew that they needed a savior.
So regarding our associations, then, it must be understood that we do indeed need to have interaction with those outside the faith in the hopes of making in impact in their lives, and, in fact, our daily lives give us plenty of opportunity for this. But there is a difference in having daily interaction with people in your work place or school compared to making ungodly people your closest companions. Show me a Christian whose best and closest friends are ungodly and who have no regard for God and His ways, and I’ll show you a Christian who is carnal at best and on his way to a major spiritual collapse at worst, because how can oil and water mix?
The command of scripture to not be unequally yoked to unbelievers is not a command to be elitist or exclusive. It is given for our own protection. To be yoked to someone, you have to have a close relationship with them either in a marriage, a business partnership, or a close friendship. Imagine two oxen yoked together and both of them pulling in a different direction. It just doesn’t work out very well. Yet if those oxen are yoked together and pulling as one, the result is power!
I remember when I came to Christ out of a very sinful lifestyle. My best friend and I were like two peas in a pod. But when I came to Christ, there was something strangely different about our relationship overnight. We tried to hang out a little afterward, but it just seemed so awkward to both of us, and although it was never discussed, we knew that our relationship would be forever changed. My life was now going in a completely different direction than his, and we knew it. It wasn’t long before we stopped interacting altogether. We still liked each other, but I knew it could never be the same as long as my new best friend was Jesus, and thus ended my close relationship with my former best friend.
There are still people in my life who are not saved and who I consider friends, but they are not CLOSE friends. There are boundaries I have in those relationships and I do not cross them. If I can spend a little time with those people once in a while and enjoy their company and hopefully make an impact in their lives, I do. But they are not my close companions. Those who I enjoy the closest relationships with are those who are traveling in the same direction as me.
So don’t cut off the relationships with your ungodly friends and family, but you might not want to make those folks your constant companions either. It’s so much easier for them to drag you down than for you to pull them up to your level. If you are wanting to prosper in the things of God, your relationships will have to get some attention in either purging some bad relationships, and/or nurturing some godly ones.
Last thought here about relationships.
In the body of Christ it is very important that we both look for relationships with people who are already at a place where we are looking to go ourselves, but it’s equally important to take someone under your wing who is behind you. If you are looking to grow, then sow into someone else’s life, and you will naturally grow as a result, because the law of sowing and reaping will be at work. So if you know a new Christian or someone who is wanting to grow in the things of God, give them some of your time and wisdom. It will not only be a blessing to that person, but God will make sure that it blesses you, too.