A great stag (an adult male deer), mighty and majestic, became sick and staggered off to a corner of the pasture, where he often fed. He chose a lush, green corner, where plant life abounded and where he could rest until he regained his strength.
His companions came to his resting place in great numbers to see him and to ask how he was doing. Each one, however, thinking only of himself, helped himself to the lush food that surrounded the ailing deer until the ground all around his bed was bare and the food was all gone.
Before long, the stag died, not from his sickness, but from the hunger and weakness his evil companions had caused.
That story, based on one of Aesop's fables, is an illustration of how bad company can hurt you. It's just one example of why the Bible says, "Don't team up with those who are unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14).
That doesn't mean that God wants you to turn your back on people who don't know him. You can still follow God's command to treat everyone kindly and with respect. You should still witness to unbelievers and try to help them trust Christ for salvation.
However, if you're obeying God and growing closer to him, you'll find that you have less and less in common with unbelievers. After all, like the Bible says, "How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
Some people apply these verses mainly to dating relationships. However, the warning applies also to friendships, business partnerships, and so on.
Right now, it's important that you choose carefully the friends you spend the most time with. Seek out Christian friends who will help you grow in your faith. And think about these words from Scripture: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV). They're a good reminder that bad company-like the sick stag's companions-will do you more harm than good.
REFLECT: Are your closest friends Christians or non-Christians? Do your closest friends influence you in good ways, or are they sometimes a bad influence? Do you need to seek out more Christian friends who will help you grow in your faith?
ACT: Light a candle sometime today or tomorrow to remind you that light has no "fellowship" with darkness.
PRAY: "God, show me where I need to back off from friendships with non-Christians, such as... , and help me to choose to spend more time with Christian friends, including..."