Here’s a principle you can count on: you will become the kind of person you choose to spend time with, whether at work or school or church or the coffee shop. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Talk to those who’ve endured in the Christian life, and you’ll find they’ve chosen good friends who raise the bar instead of lowering it. Make sure your friendships are centered on Christ. If your closest friends don’t follow Jesus, you’ll have all kinds of daily reasons not to follow Him. If they do follow Jesus, positive peer pressure will hold you accountable to the life of discipleship. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Whom we choose to spend our leisure time with will dramatically shape our lives.
Television and reading both put us in someone’s company, and remove us from someone else’s company. You decide: will you be different because you put yourself in the company of Spurgeon rather than sitcoms? Over the long haul, will you grow closer to God and your family and your neighbor by watching television, or by turning it off and doing something that matters, something that’s an investment in eternity?
Bad books are poor companions; good books are great friends. When I spend the morning reading someone like C. S. Lewis, I find that his fingerprints are still on me in the afternoon. Don’t misunderstand: I enjoy good movies and a limited amount of television. But the fact is, if I spend the day watching television, I won’t progress in a life of discipleship.
A great way to endure in the Christian life is to study and pattern your life after followers of Jesus who have lived a long obedience in the same direction. To do this, you must read history and biographies. Take your cues from dead people who still live rather than the living who are dead. Compare reading a biography of William Wilberforce or Amy Carmichael to watching hours of shows, surfing the internet, or playing on your phone. Which will help you grow in Christlikeness? Take your eyes off celebrities and put them on followers of Jesus. Ask yourself, what did they do to become who they became, and how can I arrange my life to follow their example?
You needn’t read just about pastors or theologians. Stanley Tam is a businessman who declared God to be the owner of his company, U.S. Plastic. R.G. Letourneau, the inventor of earth-moving machines, gave 90% of his salary to God.
God has also placed in your church examples of a long obedience in the same direction. Find them and spend time with them. Sit at the feet of the wise, not fools.
Excepted from Randy’s message Today's Decisions Determine Who You'll Be Tomorrow.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.