The Company You Keep Banner
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Introduction

The company you keep — who do you surround yourself with and what good do they bring to your soul?  Last week, I began a discourse on our spiritual health, its importance, and took a look at spiritual healing.  Spiritual healing, I believe, is very significant to everyone who walks this earth and, again, we should take our spiritual health with great concern.

Now, you will recall that last week I mentioned how I was frustrated by the criticism that Simon Biles had received for taking a mental break. That criticism also got me to thinking about the type of people that were criticizing her for simply taking a mental break, and frankly, it got me thinking about the words that we say and the words that others say to us.

Are we being encouraging to those around us or are we being discouraging?  To me, it seems like there are two kinds of people in our world – those that are helpful and those that are not helpful. 

After what we have been seeing going on around us from last year to this year, concerning how we have collectively handled COVID-19 and its variants, I’m concerned that those who are not helpful outnumber those that are.  Where we should be living for one another, we choose not to do so.  Which is saddening because I truly do believe that God made us to all be helpers of each other (Gen. 2:18).  Yes, we are all the main characters of our stories but at the same time, we are the supporting characters in someone else’s story.  Sadly, it feels like people don’t care about playing the supportive role.

The manner in which we treat each other can either uplift the spirit of others or tax and burden the spirit of others.  So, are you surrounding yourself with people that will help to uplift you in your soul or does the company you keep stress and burden you in your soul?  And, on the other hand, are you uplifting the soul of those around you?

Spirit to Spirit Interaction

Again, Paul said that we wrestle not against the flesh but against principalities and spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph. 6:12).  

Yet, there is a big elephant in the room that would be hard for any of us to ignore.  That elephant in the room being the physical reality that we can both see and interact with on a daily basis.  All we ever see is the physical and we interact with objects, animals, and other people.  I believe it would be hard for any of us to ignore this fact.  What do these interactions do for our soul and our spiritual health?

I want to point out to you, again, that the Lord breathed into mankind’s nostrils His breath – the breath of life – and man became a living being (Gen. 2:7).  As you have heard me say before, we are all spiritual beings that are wearing a shell that is our physical body.  So, while we are able to see each other’s physical bodies through the lens of our eyes, I want you to know that there is a spirit behind those eyes.  What this means is that every person you and I interact with is not just a physical to physical interaction but also a spirit to spirit interaction.

Spirit is a sponge

Now, one thing I pointed out to all of you last week was that the spirit is like a springboard in that all the issues of life spring from the spirit (Prov. 4:23).  I want to point out to you today that the spirit is also very similar to another object that we are all familiar with.

Our spirit is like a sponge.  Why do I say that our spirit is like a sponge?  Well, I believe our spirit is like a sponge because I believe it is capable of soaking up any and everything it interacts with.  This can be a good thing for us but at the same time, the spirit being able to absorb anything around it is something we should be concerned about.

This reminds me of when parents would have to watch what they say around children because they would be afraid of a child repeating something they said, especially if choice words were involved.  So, on that note, what I want to share with you today is that our spirit is able to absorb from the spirit of those around us that we interact with on a daily basis.  Through our spirit, we are able to soak up the thoughts of others, the feelings that emanate from others, and certainly their every action.

Spiritual discernment

The apostles actually focused a great deal on spirit to spirit interaction in their writings.  A subject you have heard me focus on before now arises within our thought for today – the subject of spiritual discernment.  

While Paul wrote about how we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, John wrote. “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God (1 John 4:1).”  This, John said, when talking about our daily interactions with those around us.  You see, some of us have a godly spirit about ourselves because we choose to genuinely walk in the way of Christ while others have an ungodly spirit about themselves because they choose not to walk in the way of Christ.

To this point, John said, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist (1 John 4:2-3).”  

There are many people around us who have a spirit that is positive (righteous) and uplifting.  At the same time, there are many people around us who have a negative spirit – ungodly, wicked, and unrighteous.  What I mean by them having a negative spirit is that all those with a negative spirit are able to manifest in the world are negative thoughts, negative feelings, and negative actions — they do nothing to uplift the souls of others.

So, as a child of God, we have to be able to discern whether the company we keep is filled with spirits that are godly (positive/righteous) spirits or spirits that are negative (ungodly/wicked) spirits.

A Snare for the Soul

Now, I believe that Solomon had all of this in mind when he wrote the proverb that I have referenced for my key verse for today.

24 Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.

KEY VERSE – PROVERBS 22:24-25 NKJV

We see Solomon say to us, “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go.  Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”  A snare, we should know, is a trap.

The company of an angry and furious man

Let us notice the two types of people that Solomon mentioned in this proverb – an angry man and a furious man.

Of an angry person, you will see Solomon say elsewhere, that they stir up strife, and of a furious person, Solomon wrote that they abound in transgressions (Prov. 29:22).  What this means is that both the angry and furious person – those with negative spirits – like to stir up and keep up a bunch of mess.  I believe they do this because keeping up a bunch of mess is something that they simply enjoy doing.  Now, should we choose to keep the company of those with such a negative spirit, the only thing we would end up doing is get caught up in their mess!

 Now, what do you imagine this kind of energy radiating from the spirit that is negative will do to your soul?  Do you believe it will lift up your spirit?  Do you believe that it would be good for the soul?  Again, scripture tells us exactly what the company of an angry and furious person will do for our soul.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that evil company corrupts good habits (1 Cor. 15:33).  The good habits that Paul was speaking of in this scripture are the morals that we, the child of God, have learned through the word of God.  In my opinion, this absolutely makes sense and I imagine you would agree that it makes sense as well.  If the company we keep does nothing but serve negativity, then our spirit is going to do nothing but soak up that negativity.

What to expect when feeding off of negativity

Should all we do is feed off of such negativity, our soul is going to do nothing but plummet into negativity.  Again, our spirit is the springboard to our thoughts, our feelings, and all of our actions.  From an habitually negative place spiritually, we are going to begin to feel down and depressed, possibly furious, and possibly angry as well.  All of this negativity, I want you to understand, will lead to a spirit of infirmity which I spoke of last week – a spirit that is paralyzed and unable to move positively.  

This sounds like it would certainly be a trap for the soul, right?  A good trap paralyzes those that are caught up in the trap, right?  Again, I direct your attention back to my key verse for today where we see Solomon specifically state that if we go in the way of the angry and furious – those with a negative spirit – that we should be prepared because we will learn their ways and set a snare for the soul.

Such a trap for the soul would lead to a life that I don’t believe any of us desire.  How many of us actually desire to live a life where we are always in the negative, spiritually, with negative thoughts, feelings, and actions?  Where we may desire to live a life burden and stress free in our soul, staying caught up in a bunch of mess will certainly not lead us to living a stress free life in our soul.  All we would be left with is a burdened, taxed, and stressed spirit.

Does any of this sound like it would be good for our spiritual health?  Who could you imagine would be behind such an attack on our spirit?  As I said last week, the devil’s main attack against us is always going to be against our soul.  Whether the devil uses an entity that we are unable to see physically or one that we can see physically, he is constantly seeking to paralyze our soul.

The remedy for this snare

So, how do you go about remedying this issue with the company you keep if that company is not good for your spiritual health?  To expound on that thought for a moment, I want to briefly touch on some things that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus.

To Timothy, Paul wrote that in the later days men would be unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, brutal, despisers of good among several other things that describe a form of godliness but one that isn’t actually godliness.  Let us take note that, again, these are all actions that are born from a negative spirit.  Paul said that we should turn away from these types of people (2 Tim. 3:2-5).

To Titus, Paul wrote, “Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.  Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned (Tit. 3:9).”  

Turn away (remove), avoid, reject the three words we must keep in mind when it comes to the company we keep if that company is not good for the soul.  This will sound harsh and mean to some of us because we do love people and it can be hard to let some company go.  Yet, we must take into consideration our spiritual health because, again, all of our thoughts, feelings, and actions need to come from a healthy and positive soul.

Surrounded by Those That Uplift

When it comes to the company you keep, what is best for our spiritual health is to surround ourselves with positive (godly) spirits that will uplift our soul.  So, we must work to surround ourselves with people who are going to be good for our spiritual health instead of keeping the company of those who are going to do nothing but stir up a bunch of mess.

Good friends

I can recall the times back in my adolescence, where what people thought of me meant so much to me and also having lots of friends meant a lot too.  I believe that all of us probably felt that way as well during those years.  My dad would always say to me and my brother, adamantly, “I don’t have many friends, but I have lots of acquaintances.”  He would go on to say, “that’s a whole lot of business to keep up with – your business and they will bring their business to you.”

Now, I did not understand then what he was getting at because, in my mind, it was not that big of a deal to have a whole bunch of friends.  Yet, as I grew older, I realized that the ol’ man knew what he was talking about.  You see, in order to be a good friend, we have to be willing to help bear the burdens of our friends so that we can help to lift them up when they are down.  

I want to share a few more proverbs with you in closing today just to give you more to consider when it comes to the company you keep.  Consider, as I share these with you, whether or not the company you keep encourages you in your soul or do they discourage you? 

Solomon once said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Prov. 27:17).”  What does the company you keep do in order to lift you up?  Are they any good to your spiritual health?

Again, Solomon wrote, “Those who walk with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20).”  When Solomon says “destroyed” in that proverb, you may think he is talking about being physically destroyed, but I want you to also understand that this has spiritual implications as well.  I say to you again today that the company you keep can do a lot for your soul.  When it comes to our spiritual health, we should want to be surrounded by those who are not going to poison and corrupt our soul.

We can be medicine for the soul

Jesus taught us to love one another and to be of service to each other.  As the Lord is medicine for the soul, we who walk in His way, can also be medicine for the soul as well.  Throughout his writings, Paul spoke of how we should comfort and edify (uplift) each other (1 Thess. 5:11) – these are actions of love.  Paul also wrote that no corrupt word should come out of our mouth, but “what is good for edification” so that it may impart grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).

Do those who you surround yourself with impart grace to you – do they love you?  On the flip side, because you make up the company that someone else keeps, are you imparting grace to those who are around you?  Are you lifting up those whose company you are within?  You see, “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life (Prov. 10:11).” So, ideally, the child of God should be a well of life to all of those whose company they find themselves within.

So, be a good friend to those whose company you are within.  Also, be sure that the company you keep truly loves you and are encouraging good health to your spirit.  We cannot be bothered by the words of fools or by strangers that aren’t helping to uplift our souls.  However, those who keep close, we should certainly give serious consideration as to whether they are imparting good medicine to our soul.