It is written, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Be sober-minded [be sensible, wake up from your spiritual stupor] as you ought, and stop sinning; for some [of you] have no knowledge of God [you are disgracefully ignorant of Him, and ignore His truths]. I say this to your shame,”(1 Corinthians 15:33-34, AMP).
Before we begin, I want to cover the biblical definition of character. A person’s character is based on their disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and their actions. Godly character is the work of the Holy Spirit working in a believer’s life. The Holy Spirit, oftentimes by trails and tribulations, will mold us to become morally stronger. A Christian can not be sober-minded, nor can they stop sinning without the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is the foundation of someone with good character (a morally grounded person). Now that we have covered this definition I would like to continue.
In this piece of Scripture, Paul is teaching us two lessons. The first lesson is for an outward change in our lives and the second is for an inward change. The outward change is directed towards the company we surround ourselves with. When Paul was speaking about our company, he was not speaking about the people we work with or the people we are trying to minister to. What he was addressing was our own personal inner circle of friends. The people we rely on and trust. If we choose to surround ourselves with the wrong type of people (company), their bad habits can stain our character. What that means is how they act and speak will eventually rub off on us. If you are around people that gossip every day, over a period of time you will find yourself gossiping as well. If you are around people who are prideful and angry, you will find yourself eventually getting prideful and angry over everything. This principle is as true now as it was when Paul was writing the message. We have to be mindful of our relationships with others. If your inner circle is a bunch of unbelievers, how is that helping you grow in character and helping you grow closer to the Lord? If you are going through difficult times, who will pray for you and provide you with wise biblical counsel? If the company you hold cannot do this then you need to find yourself some new company. A set of friends that will not stain your character but who will help you refine it. A set of friends that will build you up and hold you accountable. This is the company that we all should be seeking in our lives and this is an important lesson that we can learn from Paul’s wise counsel.
Paul’s second lesson revolves around the simple question “why is good character important”? In verse 34, Paul identifies that we must be sober-minded and ought to stop sinning. Why is this so important? It is important because “some people have no knowledge of God.” When Paul wrote this, he had shame in the church of Corinth. Their words and actions were not correlating with the Gospel. The reason why it is so important to have good character is not for our personal growth but to be able to share the gospel with others. It is about guiding people to know Christ through the Holy Spirit living within us. People do not care about how well we speak or how educated we are. People only care about if our actions line up with our words. If you call yourself a Christian, and you are prideful, angry, or even gossip; then your actions do not line up with the Gospel that you are preaching. That my friends will turn more people away from Christ than Satan himself could ever do. This means that every single day we need to walk in the Spirit. We need to reflect Christ’s humility, mercy, love, and grace with everyone we meet. If not, how else will those who ” have no knowledge of God” get to know Him? This can only happen when we can all make it a daily effort to be like Christ, not just when it is convenient to do so.
Today, I pray that we can all look at those who we surround ourselves with, and ask ourselves if they are people of good character or not. If not, I pray that God can give us the courage to remove them from around us and the grace to bring us a new inner circle of friends that will help us draw closer to Him. I also pray for the removal of anything in our lives that will hold us back from sharing the Gospel with others through our actions. It is only when we can have control over our actions and when we can surround ourselves with godly people that the Gospel can shine all around us. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.