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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2004

“Evil Companions Corrupt Good Morals”

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Aren’t friends great?! The Bible says: “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17), and that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Good friends are not only fun, but also can help us be better people. For instance, have you ever noticed how being around friends who do what is right, who are honest, and who respect others, causes youto want to do what is right, be honest, and re-spect others? The apostle Paul wrote: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Romans 14:7). His point was that people around us have an effect on us, and we have an effect on them.

But if friends who actrightcan encourage us to want to act right, what might friends who act wrongcause us to do? Have you ever done something wrong because you were with someone else who was doing something wrong? It is easier to do something wrong, it seems, if others around us do something wrong. Moses warned the Israelites about this very thing. “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). Moses wanted them (and us!) to realize that being around people who “do evil” can influence us to do things that are wrong, too.

Consider what happened to one of the wisest humans ever to live—Solomon. God warned His people about becoming friends with, or marrying, people who “did evil.” He told the king: “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). But Solomon did not listen. He made friends with evil people, and even married their women. Sadly, the Bible says that Solomon’s “wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).

Years later, Paul told first-century Christians: “Be not deceived. Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ASV). The New King James Version puts it like this: “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” It certainly does! Solomon learned the hard way. Today, we need to remember that the company we keep can affect how we act. Let it never be said of us that “evil company” ruined our “good habits.”

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