Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Because, as Paul said, bad company corrupts good morals.
Anyone who thinks the Bible is an old dusty book with little current application has only to read the book of Proverbs and other passages in light of today’s headlines. Just consider the growing list of those accused of sexual immorality, greed, and corruption:
- Hollywood elite who looked the other way as directors and other powerful men preyed on young women.
- The perpetrators themselves.
- Politicians who have been corrupted by power, position and the ability to spend tax-payer dollars to cover their indiscretions.
- Others afraid or unwilling to criticize, perhaps wondering if they’ll be the next to be outed or accused.
- Women who have been willing to tolerate abuses to get what they wanted (yes, some were naive or fearful, but do we really believe all of them were mere victims).
- Those willing to use money and favor, if not, out and out bribery, to get a desired outcome.
- Those willing to accept it.
- Politicians and media people willing to stack elections in favor of one candidate or the other; one party or the other.
- And many other examples.
But bad influences don’t just exist in politics and the entertainment industry. They can exist with our friends, advisers, co-workers, business partners, spouses, and those with whom we spend a great deal of time, whose favor we desire, or whose influence we come under.
Ezekiel 39 & 40
Bad Company: Friends & Politics
Bad Company Corrupts Morals & Politics
“Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
1 Corinthians tells us “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15.33). That is true in in our personal lives, in the business world, and in politics.
Jesus said we’re in the world, but not to be of the world (Jn. 17.14-20). In fact, God’s plan is for us to be light to those around us (Matt. 5.14-16; Phil. 2.15).
To do that we must be wise about our choice of friends and associates.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6.14).
We can’t always choose our co-workers, but we can be wise about how much time we spend with them during breaks and after work. We can be careful not to listen to gossip and complaining or take advice from those who are ungodly.
When we’re single, we can choose who we date. And if we’re already married to an unbeliever we can fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth and seek to love them biblically while continuing to be salt and light.
We can choose our friends wisely. It’s not that we should never spend time with unbelievers, but our closest friends should be those who love God and will speak truth into our lives, not tell us what we want to hear.
When we need counsel we should talk to people who will advise us from God’s Word and help us follow His principles (Ps. 1.1-3). There are many voices out there and sometimes worldly wisdom can sound so logical. But if it doesn’t square with God’s Word, we need to reject it and seek to live in ways that please Him.
We need to fear God and not man. The fear of man brings a snare (Prov. 29.25). Worrying about what others will think or what they can do for us will lead to compromise, even justifying wrong for some imagined greater good.
4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Lk. 12.4-5).
God has given us everything we need to conduct ourselves in godly ways, to make wise decisions, and to resist anything that would cause us to compromise our own values or look the other way when others do wrong.
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1.3-4).
May others say about us, not that we were critical and mean-spirited, but that we balance grace and truth and have the courage to stand up for what’s right in a world that may or may not appreciate it.
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you (2 Cor. 1.12).
And let’s pray that our president, politicians, business and other leaders would surround themselves with godly counselors and have the courage to do what’s right (1 Tim. 2.1-4).
Today’s Other Readings:
Ezekiel 39 & 40:
Our Exact God
As I read chapter 40 with all the measurements, the numbers of steps, the beveled windows, etc., I couldn’t help but remember that our God is a God of precision and order. He is fulfilling every word He has spoken and keeping every promise and He is doing so exactly as He intends!
When You’re Sick Turn God-Ward
14 Is anyone among you sick?
He goes on:
Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
The first thing we should do when we’re sick is to pray and, when necessary, ask for prayer from others. James is not speaking against modern medicine. In fact, the anointing with oil probably referred to the medical help of James’ day, but our first response should be God-ward.
And just as we pray and ask God’s blessing on our food, we can do the same when seeking medical help. I frequently ask God to guide the doctor’s hands, to use the medicine for good, to give the doctors and technicians wisdom beyond their own abilities.
Verse 16 instructs us to confess our sins to one another. Not all sickness is caused by sin, but sin can cause sickness. We should be constantly examining ourselves and confessing our sins to God and one another. Perhaps when praying for someone who is sick, we should ask, “Is there anything you would like to get off your heart that I can pray about?” But we need to be careful not to assume that all sickness is the result of sin.
The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving
He will clothe His priests with salvation … and His saints will shout for joy! That’s us! What a great and awesome God we serve and what a great salvation He has provided. We should be thankful for all He has done. From the beginning, it was always about Him. We tend to forget that in our secular society.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember to thank the One who is the giver of all of our blessings!
James 1.17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
For what are you thankful this year?
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about how to respond to an unreasonable spouse and when we’re struggling to trust God. We’ll also discuss the questions, “Is the Bible enough in a complex world?” and ask ourselves, “Are we ‘profiting’ from our reading and study of the Bible?”
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.