Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Most any investment book will teach you that past performance of stocks does not guarantee future success. In other words, just because a particular stock is a growth stock today, does not mean that growth will continue. There are other contributing factors, such as regulatory changes, market dynamics, world events, and loss of business that impact stock prices. Yet most novice investors continue to use past performance as a key metric. It’s easy and doesn’t require additional time or energy to validate base assumptions.
Our Christian lives often mimic this same scenario. We use past performance as a metric in determining today’s success. We believe that because we have stood for Christ, we inherently will keep going in that direction when trials or temptations appear. Naively, we forget that new factors have a way of showing up and shaking us to our core. Think of Peter and his denial of Christ. Yesterday’s wins may have helped to build our faith, but it is the choices we make today that influence where we go next.
The Company We Keep
One of such choices is the company we keep. With community, comes influence. With influence, we can spark change, but the choice to act or think differently is always left with the receiver. Often, however, we believe that we will choose correctly and so we do not keep enough guard over who we let into our lives. Yet if we reflect on the angels who sided with Lucifer, heaven was not enough to keep them from being deceived. I wonder how often they chose to listen to his words. For how long did they keep his company? Deception not effectively countered, becomes misconstrued truth. I think if those angels had to make that choice again, they’d probably choose differently.
Their outcome serves as a warning to us. It advises us that no matter how connected we are to Christ, the company we keep still matters. The opinions to which we give space can change our own outlooks. Sometimes, this is for the good, but other times, this is for the bad. When we fail to consider the ramifications of our interactions, I believe we also fail to accept the gift of discernment. It is divinely inspired discernment that allows us to assess the intent of others. Unfortunately, pride gets in the way. We want to believe that because we are “good”, we are immune to corruption. Yet Paul cautions us in 1 Corinthians 15:33: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
A Case Study on Jehoshaphat
I recently read a passage regarding Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, found in 2 Chronicles 20. His enemies were approaching to engage in battle. Before deciding the best way to respond, Jehoshaphat asked the people of Judah to fast. Then, before an assembly, he went to God in prayer. In verses 14-15 we read:
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
The people of Judah would go on to win that battle… not by their own doing but by God’s hand. With praise, commitment, and obedience to God’s word, the victory was secured.
Regrettably, the story of Jehoshaphat does not end on a high note. In verse 35 of the same chapter, we read: After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. It seems as though Jehoshaphat forget that “Evil company corrupts good habits”. It’s strange to think that a king who experienced such a great miracle from God, would then go on to align himself with someone of such differing values. But as we were reminded earlier, past performance does not guarantee future success.
Judgement Will Come
We learn that these two kings had a plan to build ships to go to Tarshish, presumably to make money. I’m sure Jehoshaphat could’ve chosen other options – but he didn’t. The chapter closes with verse 37. It reads:
But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
Such an ending reminds us that if we align ourselves with wickedness, ruin will come. God will hold us accountable for our choices, so it’s important that we not only consider our actions, but also the company we keep.
Evil Company Corrupts Good Habits
King Jehoshaphat’s decisions also speaks to the role of miracles in our Christian walks. Too often, we believe that if God delivers a miracle, it will change us. It doesn’t. Just ask the Israelites. A miracle only stirs our souls when our souls are already connected to God, no matter how small the connection. Once we experience God in these profound ways, we still have to put in the work to remain connected. New factors will appear. Unexpected considerations will challenge us. Our very foundations may become undone.
What God has done for us only matters if we use that faith to believe in what He will do next. If not, it becomes a distant memory – a moment of grace and compassion lost in the seas of sin. And it’s not just about what happens to us, but with whom we choose to share those experiences and to receive counsel on how to proceed next. Not everyone has the best of intentions, and not everyone recognizes the evil to which they’ve grown accustomed.
We must be mindful to not let others corrupt what God has put in us. Do not let the fear of isolation, lack of connection, or possibility of failure stop you from moving in the way that God has blessed. I know that this is easier said than done, but it is possible if you remain steadfast in building a relationship with Christ. He is always willing to give us the strength needed to carry us through this journey – we just have to ask, and then be willing to receive.
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