by Gina Gardner, Steppes of Faith
“For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
Recently, my son was reading over a list of some ways to be a gentleman. Number seven said that we shouldn’t hang out with the ungodly, which, of course, made him ask me why not? After some serious thinking, I was asking the same question. Why can’t we, exactly? I mean, how can we share the Good News of Jesus if we’re not supposed to spend any length of time with them?
Last week, I shared with you three cautionary reasons why we’re supposed to avoid keeping company with those who refuse God. For those of you who missed it, here’s a quick review.
A Quick Recap of Cautions #1-3
The first caution was in Psalm 1:1, which says,
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord.”
The psalmist warns us how the ungodly will pull us away from our walk with Christ and into all the evil and destructive things Satan has laid out for us. So we must choose our friends carefully.
The second caution was from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33 where he warns us that “evil company ruins good habits.” It’s a lot like the first warning, but I like how it’s short and sweet. It’s very easy to remember. And if you have young children, it’s a good lesson for them to learn before deep, meaningful friendships start to take root.
Caution #3 was made by Paul too. He gives a mouthful of warning in Ephesians 4:17-18, 22-24 where he says,
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Paul is reminding us of the time we gave our heart to the Lord. It was then that we put off the “old man” and became a new creation with the Holy Spirit living inside of us. As a new creation reconciled to God because of the grace that’s given to us from Jesus, the people we fellowship with should like-minded and alike in our love for God. To fellowship with those who don’t love God will not only ruin good habits and drag us deeper into sin, it will also fill our hearts with deceit, ignorance, and corruption.
Two More + One Powerful Hope
The last two words of caution we’ll talk about (although there are more in the Bible) give us more food for thought about the company we routinely keep. And then, there’s a truly powerful hope for both the ungodly people we’re hanging out with and for us, no matter where we are in our Christian walk. Let’s pick up where we left off- Caution #4.
Caution #4: Ephesians 5:6-7
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be partakers with them.”
Satan will use every available means to lure you away from following God. He’ll manipulate your circumstances, cause chaos in your relationships and work, set you up to get sick…he’ll use anything to make you go off-course. He’ll even use your spouse, best friend, kids, or anyone you think you can trust. Those are the people in your life who, though they love you, may not always have your best interest at heart if they are not rooted in Christ. Through their care and concern for you, Satan will cause them to advise you wrongly and steer you away from Biblical principles. And if you’re not careful, you’ll buy into every word. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment so you won’t be led astray, no matter who’s talking.
Caution #5: Proverbs 16:27
“An ungodly man digs up evil.”
Bad things happen. It’s a known fact. But some ungodly people seem to have a way of finding misfortune or trouble. Maybe you know someone like this, someone who seems to make one bad decision after another and trouble follows them everywhere. Some do it on purpose (a rebellious teen, for example) and some just can’t seem to figure things out. Whether they know it or not, it’s their ungodliness that’s causing the problem. Because they don’t know the Lord or are away from Him, their choices are digging up evil. And if you’re hanging out with them, the evil can affect you too. After all, Satan is all too happy to spread it around to anyone who’s nearby.
It’s better to keep a safe distance from people who are like this if you can. If it’s someone who’s close to you, then, by all means, try to keep them on the path of righteousness through your careful advice, love, and kindness. Let them know you’re praying for them. Otherwise, you’d be better to keep on walking.
A Powerful Hope for the Ungodly…and You
Now that we’ve laid out five words of caution about hanging out with the ungodly, what are we to do? Should we stop meeting our unbelieving friends for coffee? Do we tell our kids they can’t go to a friend’s birthday party because the other kids there don’t go to church? Should we skip the next family gathering because we would be the only Christians there? Should we hide in our houses and never fellowship unless another Christian is around? Do we avoid that strange guy at work because he’s always messing up? Absolutely not! The very notion flies in the face of what God calls us to do. Instead, what we should do is go out into the world and offer the ungodly a powerful hope, the kind that comes only from the Lord.
Christ commands us to go to all the nations and share the Good News (Matthew 28:9). We are to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:8) and be doers of the Word (James 1:22) so that all people are drawn to Him. How do we do that unless we hang out with the ungodly? We can’t hide like hermits. We should- and must- hang out with non-believers or else we risk disobedience because we didn’t offer any hope.
Romans 5:6 reminds us, “For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” That’s all of us. We who are now in Christ were at one time ungodly. But because of the Lord’s redeeming grace, we are now godly, and it’s our job to lead others to the throne of Jesus. We can’t do that if we huddle together and refuse to speak to those who don’t know Him (yet). That’s not sharing the love of Christ. So let’s get out there and influence people toward God instead of them influencing us away from Him. Amen?
By this point, you may be thinking, “Ok, I get it. I need to be careful of who I hang around and try to tell them about who God is instead. But, how exactly do I do that?” The answer is we begin by sharing our testimony, our story.
Share the Love
I know many of us are nervous to share our testimonies or talk about what’s so great about God, even though we may want to. For a long time, I was like that too. I challenge you to take hold of that fear and throw it away. Pray over it, rebuke it in the name of Jesus, and let God fill you with His supernatural boldness. Remember how God helped Moses when he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?
“So the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.’” (Exodus 4:11, emphasis mine)
This promise God made to Moses is the very same promise He has for you. He will help you know what to say if you will just speak up. Meet the ungodly where they are in their need, wherever it may be. Be like Jesus.
Maybe they just need someone to listen to them, a shoulder to cry on, or an extra voice of joy and laughter when good things happen. Or maybe they’re secretly hungering for grace and mercy. In other words, they’re seeking God, but they are afraid to tell anyone.
I encourage you to hang out with the ungodly and be that special someone they need. God, through the Holy Spirit, will give you the right words to say at the right time. All you have to do is trust Him. When you do, you offer the ungodly a powerful hope of love, peace, and eternal freedom from the chains of sin. And your response to them just might be the only invitation that person’s ever had to meet Jesus. So don’t shy away. Let God lead you.
Loving the Ungodly
Though we’re not supposed to spend huge amounts of time with them, the ungodly is exactly who Jesus came to save. In the same way, we need to reach out in love whenever we can so that they can understand what it means to follow Jesus and why that path is so wonderful. Help them to see Christ in you so they turn away from their sinful lifestyle and instead turn their hearts and minds to realize His amazing grace.
For our kids, the earlier they learn this, the better. Loving others is, after all, the second Great Command given by Jesus (the first being to love God, Matthew 22:37-39). Developing habits of kindness and love goes a long way toward becoming good ladies and gentlemen in Christ. That’s certainly what I’m going to teach my son.
How do you react to people who don’t know Jesus? Do you hide your faith and try to fit in? Do you struggle to share your love for God publicly? How can we teach our kids that it’s okay to have all kinds of friends as long as they’re wise about it? In what ways can we continually reinforce good manners and build them up into ladies and gentlemen in Christ? Leave your comments here. I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Click here to download 24 Ways to be a Gentleman.