Nehemiah 13 : 1 – 9
Growing up, the only time I was sent the principal’s office was when a friend and I were caught running in the hall of our parochial school so we could sit in the front row at chapel. I was not a trouble maker, but I can look back at times when I didn’t always make the wisest choices and they often coincided with outside influences. I may not have done some of the things that I considered “really bad” that some of my friends were doing, but I had also temporarily turned off my ability to recognize some of my poor choices. I can also say that when I made wiser choices, I usually had friends that were also making wise choices. I was very influenced by the people I hung around.
This section of scripture can seem confusing because we are told that God loves everyone and we are to love everyone, yet He doesn’t allow certain people to mix with the Israelites. The laws we see here had nothing to do with God’s love for everyone, but they had everything to do with the influences the Israelites brought into their life. The Israelites had a history of walking away from God due to allowing outside influences to affect their decision making. We can even see where Tobiah was given a room in the temple by his son-in-law, which was against God’s Law. God was trying to keep their walk pure by having their primary influences be fellow Jews. The same principals can be applied to us today.
On day 16, I blogged about how God wants us to live a life that is not of this world. The Bible says in Romans 12 : 2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This does not mean that we cannot have friends in the world; rather it means that the world should no longer influence our behavior. I want to emphasize that this does not mean we need to live in a bubble and only talk with fellow Christians. If that were the case, how would we be a light to the world? However, if we continue to make the world our primary influence, our walk with God is not going to grow. The people who influence us should be those that have a strong walk with God and will encourage us in our walk with God. My closest friends are those that pray with me and encourage me in my spiritual walk.
Who influences you? Do you have a friend or mentor that encourages your spiritual growth? If you don’t have a friend or accountability partner that will help you grow, pray for God to put someone in your life that will.