“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
I read in a James Dobson book many years ago about an experiment he loved to perform with his Sunday School class of middle schoolers. At the beginning of the school year he would fill a bag with beautiful, ripe, healthy apples. Into that bag he would put one apple that had one blemish on it – a bruise, a dent. It wasn’t a rotten apple but it had “issues.” Then he would place the bag in the closet and leave it there for a month or more, eventually bringing it out and opening it up for the class to observe. What they found was a bag of rotten apples now because the “issues” that one apple had spread to the healthy apples over time.
I have heard the same truth spoken multiple times by multiple people but it bears repeating. If you’re married, without counting your spouse and children, think about the five people you spend the most time with – people that you choose to do life with regularly. What are their characteristics? How would people describe them? Are they kind hearted, sensitive, sweet? Driven, ambitious? Self centered, gossipy or mean spirited? The character traits that you see in them will be reflected back in you if they are the people you choose to do life with because we will become like those we associate with.
It’s so important to choose friends wisely. This is a truth we try and instill in our children. While it’s a great idea to befriend someone who is troubled or hurting or needs a friend (that’s something Jesus Himself did), it’s just as important to “do life” with those whose values and beliefs line up with yours.
If you look at the life of Jesus, He befriended everyone and turned no one away. However, those closest to Him, His disciples and those He “did life with” shared similar values as Him. They chose to believe His message of hope and truth and they lived it through their actions, lifestyle and choices. Jesus warns us in the Bible multiple times to be careful not to be unequally yoked with one another, because what fellowship does a believer have with an unbeliever?
I believe this is talking about two separate types of “yoking” – I believe it’s talking about the marriage covenant, a believer not marrying an unbeliever. Marriage is hard enough with the pressures of life, but becomes much harder when you can’t share your deepest relationship with the one you pledged your life too. And I also believe God is talking about friendships – because when you share life on a regular basis with an individual whose values are in direct conflict with your own – someone will end up compromising.
That’s why I seek godly wisdom and guidance when trials arise in my life. I choose to surround myself with songs, books and teachings from people who look at life through the same filter I do. It’s a good idea to take inventory of one’s tribe occasionally because it does say a lot about the person staring back in the mirror.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017