Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 11-17 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
Devotional Thought for Today
Philippians 3:17-21 (ESV):
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
A motivational speaker by the name of Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, I think it’s safe to say that we are highly influenced by those whom we are around the most. A silly example of this is the way my laughter has evolved throughout the years. I’ve had friends with very unique laughs, and for some reason, my laugh would begin to look or sound slightly like theirs, the more I hung out with them. I’m sure there are many more ways that we pick up on things and imitate those we are around a lot, especially those we trust and respect.
Paul is making a plea to the Philippian believers to imitate him in his faith journey. He seems to make this plea often, for he also exhorts the Corinthian believers to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). This plea is a serious one when we consider what Paul says: that there are those who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, seeking to influence these new believers, and they are not to associate with them.
Paul is not against having unbelieving friends. In fact, I think he would encourage us to have more unbelieving friends than we currently have. Rather, he speaks wisdom regarding those whom we surround ourselves with, particularly those who counsel and mentor us. During our impressionable years (particularly our late teens and twenties), we ought to make sure that we are surrounded by people who will remind us of our ultimate end—as citizens of heaven.
But don’t we need to be relevant? Often, our desire is to be relevant to this culture so that we can change this culture for the Lord. There is validity in that, but I believe there are wise and unwise ways in approaching this matter. Imagine if you saw a friend sinking in a quicksand. Would your first inclination be to jump in with your friend to be relevant to them? No, you would first find solid ground and then look for ways to rescue them from the quicksand. Likewise, we cannot jump into the quicksand of worldly culture under the premise of relevancy. Rather, we place our feet squarely on Christ the solid rock before reaching out in relevancy to those who are sinking. Our lifestyles, values and belief system must be different from those of this present culture, if we are to represent Christ accurately to this world.
Prayer: Father, help me to find people who would influence me to be more godly rather than worldly. Help me to be someone who would influence others in a way that leads to life rather than death. I want to be salt and light of this world—help me stand firmly in You so that I can do so! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Proverbs 12:26 (NLT): The godly give good advice to their friends, the wicked lead them astray.
Read Proverbs 13:20 (NLT): Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
Question to Consider
- What is the writer of these proverbs trying to communicate?
- Are there ungodly relationships in your life that influence you negatively?
- Who we surround ourselves with is very important – they can either cause us to walk on the right path or get us into trouble. We will certainly be influenced by those we surround ourselves with.
- Reflection question.
There is a tension between being relevant and living a life that is set apart. If our lives are not different from those who set their minds on earthly things, how are we to influence them to set their minds on heavenly things? Perhaps we need to take an inventory of our relationships once again and intentionally seek out people who we see having godly wisdom.