What does the Bible say about with whom and how a Christian should spend their time? What kind of company should I keep? Should I avoid certain people? Can a Christian be friends with a non-Christian?
If you are asking these, or similar questions, chances are you are genuinely wondering what is right and wrong. Read James 4:4 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. A Christian needs to be clearly separate from the world in order to preserve a good relationship with God. What is the point in trying to maintain relationships that constantly have you “playing with fire?” Why constantly battle to avoid being drawn into a lifestyle that embraces things you know to be wrong? The Apostle Paul said that “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33. People with a completely different goal in life than you can hinder your spiritual progress. We are to “guard our hearts with all diligence.” Proverbs 4:23.
As Christians, our goal is to be a part of the bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7) To be pure and spotless so that we are worthy to be together with Him for all eternity. (Ephesians 5:27) This we do out of love for Him, because He first loved us and gave up everything for our sake. With this mentality you should be able to judge for yourself what is right for you as an individual in Christ.
Every decision needs to be weighed according to that goal. Can I be a part of this conversation, go to this place, participate in this behavior and at the same time keep myself pure and spotless? Is this going to help me in my ultimate goal of eternal life with Him? This goes for the company you keep, as well as the things you allow yourself, especially with regards to entertainment and social media. Why do you want it? If it can hinder you from reaching your goal it isn’t worth it! You need to have the zealous mindset that Paul writes about in Colossians:
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4.
Is Christ your whole life? Then the only thing of importance is being worthy of Him. That may mean giving up things that hurt to give up, but you are doing it for His sake! Think of everything that He gave up for us!
Contact with people
Of course it’s necessary to have good relationships with people. They should experience the life of Christ in warmth and goodness from us. We should be a light and a blessing to people. But this goodness must have as its backbone a “zero tolerance for sin policy.” As soon as sin tries to make an entrance, it should meet this backbone of steel. Gossip, lewd behavior, substance abuse, dishonesty, hurting others, etc. Everyone you have to do with should be well aware of your “no sin allowed” motto!
Jesus teaches us that we should pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13. This needs to be something that you work together with God on. You can’t just blindly do whatever you want and assume He will stop you from going too far. You need to be zealous to keep yourself far from evil! Usually you know full well that there are certain places, people, and things that will lead you into temptation. Zeal is required! (Titus 2:14)
The same applies when you are motivated to spend time with people in order to bring them to Christ. Jesus kept company with tax collectors, prostitutes, and all kinds of sinners. But He never tolerated their sin. Rather, He taught them how to come free from sin! Sinners need to be reached out to; mission work is an important part of a Christian life. But protect your own heart above all else. Do not put yourself in a situation that you are not strong enough for.
Everything must be pure
“Finally brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.
This verse can be used as a good test for the company you keep, and the things in which your interests lie. Jesus’ commandments must be kept (John 14:15), and there are things that will keep you from being able to keep them. If your one interest is in keeping your heart pure for your eternal calling, then God will show you what is right and wrong for you.
You will not miss out on anything worth anything if you have it like this. You will be happy and satisfied in your relationship with Jesus, you will find likeminded friends with whom you can have fellowship, you can be an example and a beacon for Christianity for those around you, and you will have an eternity to thank and praise God for His goodness to you.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:23.