My pastor once spoke about roses. With springtime approaching, he had to prune his rose bushes before they would produce the beautiful pink flowers he wanted. In the same way, he said, we needed to prune out the friends and acquaintances who take us away from our relationship with Christ. He encouraged us, as Christians, to choose our associations based on that.

Genesis 19 paints for us a picture of the stark contrast between Abraham and his nephew Lot.

Way back in chapter 14: 21-24, Abraham declined a well-deserved reward from Sodom’s government. Besides problems of sexual violence, the inhabitants of Sodom were “arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Abraham purposely distanced himself from these people while still showing them how God-fearing people acted. Lot, however, stepped right into what seemed like an easy and successful life. When Abraham could not find even 10 righteous people in the city, God destroyed it, and Lot had to flee at the last minute.

There is a saying that goes like this: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with — and if you have a community that leads you away from Christ, it’s impossible to live a life with Christ.

Like Abraham, communicate with all people, but choose your associations based on your path of faith.

Lord, even though you call me to be your hands and feet in the world, and to serve all people you place in our path, help me make the right choices when I’m deciding who to associate with. Help me to have the strength to recognize and reject evil. Show me how I can share your love with those around me and abide in Jesus by your Spirit. Amen.

Today's challenge: Are there any associations you feel the Holy Spirit is guiding you to prune from you life? Take a hint from Abraham and don’t be afraid to reject worldly things, even if they may seem appealing. It’s always better to stay away from anything associated with evil.

Tags: discernment Genesis 19 community friendship
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