I have been struggling with the two verses above. I’ve seen debates in comments on articles about loving your neighbor. Many have questioned who we are to consider our neighbor. Does it mean our physical, living next to us, neighbor? Does it mean our enemy? Does it mean fellow Christians? Does it mean those around us in general? For sake of argument, I’m going to say it means everybody. Because are we not to love our family, our friends, strangers, and even our enemies? Yet, I struggle.
When it comes to this verse, I struggle:
“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
So, then, if we should avoid “bad company” how are we also to love them? At what point is it okay to walk away? How do we love, but protect ourselves from bad company? This, friends, is where I need help.
So I searched for more guidance on “bad company.” I find earlier in the book of Corinthians, Paul gives more detail on the company we should not keep.
“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
In this verse, Paul refers to a “brother”, meaning believer, or Christ follower. It doesn’t say to stay away from sinners. Jesus himself spent time with sinners. There’s a difference between sinners, who are unbelievers, and believers, who choose to continue in the same sins. So then, is it okay to walk away from those who choose to continue down the wrong path and not accept help to turn around and go the other direction? I believe so.
I apologize if I’m not making sense to some of you here. This post may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this topic has been weighing on my mind, particularly because my choice to not keep certain company has, in turn, caused my Christianity to be questioned.
So, how do we love bad company?
Well, my answer for that is with the grace of God and the discernment of knowing when to walk away… which leaves me somewhat feeling as if that doesn’t seem like a real answer, but isn’t it? We are taught in the Bible to discern what is right, what is pure versus what is unholy. So wisdom I shall pray for in order to help me in that area. I’ll trust that God will help guide me on when to love and when to walk away. I pray that you will trust Him too.
Do your best to love, but keep in mind there are times when it is okay to walk away.
I hope that I have caused you to at least pause and think about this topic a little more.
Be brave. Be blessed.