I encounter a lot of Christians who don't want to be told - by me, by God, or anyone else - who their friends should be. Before I even get to say anything to them about the subject, they'll say, "Now don't tell me that I shouldn't be friends with these people, because I love them and won't give them up!" Most of the time, these believers know very well what the Word of God says about their close associations with unbelievers. But they simply choose to disobey the Lord in this area. What they often fail to realize is that they aren't only grieving God's heart, but they are holding back their own blessings as a result of their disobedience.
Scripture says: "Come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor." (2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP) Every translation I've read of this verse uses the word "separate". That means, God wants us to keep a healthy distance between us and unbelievers. There are countless Christians right now who are not enjoying the rewards, promotions, and blessings that are their inheritance in Christ, simply because they refuse to remove themselves from relationships that are not God's will for them. They lack the "favor" of God that this verse speaks of - the very favor that would enable them to fulfill their God-given purpose and potential.
But you say, "That's a very high price to pay for having ungodly companions." Yes, it is. And that's why more than 17 years ago, I decided to "separate" myself from every association that was not a godly one. Some of these friendships were decades old. Was it difficult and painful for me at times? Yes. Was it worth it? Oh, yes! I know in my heart that I would not be enjoying the blessings and rewards - including an intimate, vibrant relationship with God - that I am enjoying today, if I had resisted obeying Him in this area. I also believe that the Lord would not have gifted me with such wonderful new Christian friends, if I had refused to let go of my old associations.
If you are one of those people who is reluctant to "separate yourself" from your unbelieving friends, allow me to ask you some tough questions today. Can you ask your friends to pray for you? Will they earnestly and effectively petition God on your behalf? Will they claim the promises of God for you when you have a need? Do they encourage your walk with the Lord? Do they inspire you to come up higher in your walk with God? Do they love what God loves, and hate what God hates? Do they have the same values that you do? Do they believe the Word of God, and apply its principles to their lives? Does the Lord have first place in their lives?
One thing that irritates me to no end is when I have a serious need, and someone says to me, "I'll be thinking good thoughts for you!" Good thoughts are fine, but what about going before the throne of the Most High God for me, and petitioning Him on my behalf? That's what loving believers will do for you. They walk in close fellowship with the Lord on a moment-by-moment basis, and they know what His Word says, and how to stand on it in faith for their loved ones who have a need. They keep us and our families covered in prayer, and they encourage our devotion to God. They share our most sacred beliefs and values, and their relationship with the Lord is their primary concern. They challenge and inspire us to have a deeper walk with God, not only by their words, but by their example. If you don't have friends like these in your life right now, I encourage you to pray for them, and to keep on praying. Separate yourself from those people that are keeping you from fulfilling the high call of God on your life, and be prepared to endure a season of loneliness, if necessary. Do your part, and trust the Lord to do His. I can tell you from experience - you won't be disappointed!
Prayer: Lord, today I ask You to show me which of my relationships are outside of Your will for me. Give me the wisdom, strength, and courage I need to begin distancing myself from these people in a God-honoring way. Bring new believers across my path who will enrich my life, and inspire me to have a closer walk with You. May I be able to say with all sincerity - "I am a companion of all those who fear, revere, and worship You, and of those who observe and give heed to Your precepts"! (Psalm 119:63 AMP)
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