June 19, 2018

Choose Your Companions Well

“He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Proverbs 13:20

Who you hang with matters!

Spend time with fools, and it will surely bring you trouble. “The companion of fools will suffer harm.” Sometimes the harm may be ‘guilt by association’ and its attendant damage to your reputation. Other times the more tangible repercussions of your friends’ actions will slosh over upon you (your reckless friend crashes your car, for instance). And, worst of all (and I think probably what Solomon has primarily in mind), “the companion of fools” will often find their very foolishness rubbing off on him.

On the other hand, spending time with the wise has a rubbing off effect as well! “He who walks with wise men will be wise”! Solid, wise, God-fearing companions will have a good effect on what we think and how we live.

For better or for worse, says Solomon, our companions will rub off on us! So choose your companions well!

And let me say (influenced by Iain Murray’s The Undercover Revolution*) that surely this rubbing off principle applies, not only to our physical companions, but also to what we might call our virtual companions – those people whose company we may regularly place ourselves via television, movies, social media, song, magazines, radio, books, and video games.

If you regularly watch a particular television program, for instance – the men and women behind the content of that show become, in some ways, your companions. Their worldviews (and potentially agendas), passed on through the medium of that show, are washing regularly over your mind and heart. And, like water washing regularly over a piece of ground, these worldviews are bound to have an effect. If the ideas conveyed are wholesome and godly, then the effect will be a good one … shaping the clay of your heart more into conformity to God’s wisdom. But if their worldviews are unhealthy and foolish (for instance, in the belittling of certain people, or in how they portray gender roles, or sexuality, or the use of money), then you open yourself up to the eroding effect of the thinking of these, your chosen companions. Because the norms of those with whom you spend a good deal of time will tend to become your own.

The same could also be said of the kinds of authors you read, the people you follow most closely on social media, the song-writers whose lyrics and videos you admire, and even the creators of the games that you play.

And so … What if we determined to choose wise virtual companions – people who fear God, and whose worldviews and agendas therefore align with a biblical worldview? What if we read books written by the wise, and listened to podcasts created by the wise, and so on? What if we set aside our regular virtual ‘hanging out’ with people of faulty worldviews, and began to be the virtual companions of a much more God-fearing set of people? How would it affect us? Answer: “He who walks with wise men will be wise.”

This is not to say that you can’t learn anything from unbelievers, nor enjoy some of their art, or humor, or creativity. But it is to say that people of foolish worldviews shouldn’t be our companions; they shouldn’t be those with whom we walk; we shouldn’t make them our close friends – not even virtually. We shouldn’t spend a great deal of time imbibing the worldviews of those who don’t fear the Lord. And we should spend lots of time being rubbed off upon by the wise!

So choose your companions well!

*Murray points out how, through the medium of novels, ungodly authors in the past had a devastating influence on the culture that read them, and how we need always to beware such infiltration of our minds and hearts. Having learned from him how ungodly people can influence us through their creative works, I apply that lesson in this article.

June 14, 2018

"The majestic ones"

“As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.”
Psalm 16:3

What David says in Psalm 16:3 is quite interesting, isn’t it? He calls “the saints” – the people of God – “majestic”! And he’s not using the word “saints” with the meaning that later came, often, to be attached to it – namely, as a designation for the super-heroes of the faith (as in Saint Augustine or Saint Patrick). He’s not just speaking, here, about the likes of Moses and Joshua. No, “the saints” here (and elsewhere in Scripture) are the people of God, in general.

And, says David, these people are “majestic”!

Now, we may not always feel like we (or our fellow believers) are all that “majestic”! And, of course, sometimes we’re not so “majestic”, it’s true! But there is a great deal to admire – a great deal that is “majestic” – in the lives of everyday Christians. Consider:
  • the older man quietly taking a fatherless boy under his wing
  • the saint who keeps worshipping the Lord, even with a broken heart 
  • the disabled who push themselves so as to be in God’s house
  • the family and friends who help them do so
  • the grandmother who never gives up praying
  • the person who unconditionally forgives
  • the young person who takes an interest in the elderly
  • the adoptive family that provides a whole new life for a child in need
  • the spouse who remains faithful and prayerful under great trial
  • the missionaries who give up much for the sake of the gospel
  • our persecuted brothers and sisters who serve Christ no matter the cost

And on the list could go, couldn’t it?

By His grace, God’s people can be truly “majestic”! Let us notice them, and “delight” in them, and thank God for them, and look up to them, and imitate them, and encourage them to keep being “the majestic ones”!

June 13, 2018

Law and Love

June 12, 2018

Love for the Father and His Children

June 7, 2018


We know the difference between perishable and non-perishable, right? Bananas are perishable. So is sweet tea (as evidenced by the moldy specimen on our kitchen counter after returning from vacation Wednesday night!). Canned goods, however, are called non-perishable – because they will last a good, l o n g time in your cupboard.

And yet even things that we call non-perishable are not completely so. Because canned beans, peas, and chicken noodle soup will all eventually turn to waste. And so, also, will much longer lasting things like gold (1 Peter 1:7, 18)! For this earth and its goods will eventually be destroyed.

But there are some things, the apostle Peter reminds us, that are truly beyond perishability! Have you ever noticed this theme in his first epistle, chapter 1 – imperishability?

In verse 4, Peter speaks of the believers’ inheritance, and calls it “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away.” The present world will eventually be no more. But we will receive an inheritance “in heaven” (and will continue enjoying it in the new earth) which will never perish. We will be in God's presence forever!

And not only is the believer's inheritance imperishable, but so also is his faith! In verse 7, Peter compares the Christian’s faith with “gold which is perishable” – and the comparison seems to indicate that our faith, unlike gold, is not perishable. It will be “tested by fire” – and will remain. If you truly trust in Christ today, then you will always do so! Praise God!

In vv.18-19, Peter makes a similar comparison between precious metals and “the blood of Christ.” “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood.” And again, the comparison seems to indicate that while silver and gold are perishable, the blood of Jesus is not. And so what Peter is getting at, with that comparison, is that the payment that redeemed God’s people was not taken from the realm of temporary things, but from a much more significant source – from the very veins of Christ, who “always lives” (Hebrews 7:25).

And then, too, Peter speaks of the Scriptures as “imperishable” (v.23). “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” The word of God will never go to rot; it will never cease to be true, living, powerful, and relevant. We are still feeding, in 2018, on the same word of truth that sustained the ancient Israelites millennia ago! And God’s people will continue to feed on it until the end of the world, and on into an endless eternity! The word of God is imperishable! And because the seed is imperishable, is it any wonder that the faith (v.7) which springs from that seed is imperishable as well?

Imperishable! Remember this theme from 1 Peter 1 the next time you find mold on your bread, or rottenness in a piece of fruit. Think of it when you see rusted metal, or a rotting tree, or something reduced to ash in a fire. So many things all around us are turning to waste – or someday will. But, praise God, there are some things that really are imperishable!