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Posted by on in The Wire and the Switch

As we begin the new year, I am inclined to think about years past. The wins and losses, ups and downs, friends and foes. This year, it is the significance of the company we keep, and the consequences of the choices we make that stands out.

 

We are all familiar with the concept that the company we keep will, in large part, define our character and the way others see us. But do we really believe this applies to us? Or just to others? Don't we sometimes believe we're exempt from that? That the choices we make about the company we keep don't carry as much weight for us as they do for others?

 

The fact is, we are defined by the company we keep. One example is the story of Absalom and his struggle with identity as the son of King David and heir apparent to the throne of Israel.

 

We are introduced to the character of Absalom when he takes his sister into his home to recuperate after she is raped by her brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:20). In his book, A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards describes Absalom in this way:

"It warmed your heart to know a man like Absalom, who saw things so clearly. Discerning. Yes, that was the word that best described him—discerning. He could penetrate to the heart of any problem. 

Men felt secure just being with Absalom. They even longed to have time with him. Talking with him, they realized that they themselves were wiser than they'd realized. Such a revelation made them feel good. As he discussed problem after problem and solution after solution, men began to long for the day when this one would be their leader. He could right so many wrongs. He gave them a sense of hope."  G. Edwards

 

However, Absalom allowed the praise of others and his own ambition lead him away from his family, and into the snares of underminers and zealots.

 

"Finally his followers, which he vowed he did not have, were almost livid. Their insights into the wrongdoings of the kingdom not only grew but abounded. They all wanted to do something about these endless injustices.

At last, it seemed, the magnificent young Absalom might concede. At the outset it was only a word. Later, a sentence. Men's hearts leaped. Glee, if not joy, reigned. Nobility was at last arousing itself to action. But no! He cautioned them not to misunderstand. He was grieved, yes, but he could not speak against those in seats of responsibility. No, absolutely not. No matter how great the grievances, no matter how justified. He would not.

Yet he grieved more and more. It was obvious that some reports drove him to agony. Finally, his righteous anger broke out in cool, controlled words of strength. "These things ought not to be." He stood, eyes blazing. "If I were in responsibility, this is what I would do..."

And with these words, the rebellion was ignited. Ignited in all but one, that is. In the noblest and purest man in the room, this was not the case.

Rebellion had been in his heart for years." G. Edwards

 

Absalom ultimately moved from brother and son, to conspirator and usurper of the throne.

 

The company we keep will ultimately define who we are. The community we are apart of will shape the people we become. This is not optional or possible. It is a fact.

 

However, don't allow this fact to drive you into an isolationist mind-set, one that seeks only it's own survival and not the well-being of others. For while it's true, the company we keep defines us, the righteousness that we are afforded by the Cross is not for us alone. It is for those who do not yet understand that the company they keep is separating them from true Life. We can remain in our community of Faith and still reach out to others. We can become the catalyst for change in their communities.

 

What if, as we are afforded Grace and the community of believers (Romans 5:8), we are to afford that same Grace and community to those who don't yet believe.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

 

Questions: How does the company you keep influence you? How are you making yourself available to the people around you?

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