By Jacob Bembry
We are known by the company we keep. I am associated with Greene Publishing, Inc., so many times I get mistaken for a family member. I have even been called Jacob Greene before. When I am away from the newspaper, though, I am usually not seen with any employees of the company, except for Bryant Thigpen, who has been my friend since he was a little boy. I am also seen with my family in public, including my mentally challenged sister Abbie, who is my BFF (best friend forever) or I may be seen in the company of any of my friends. On Monday, I could have been seen enjoying lunch with Bryant and with Jackie Watts, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church.
Sister Cora Huckaba was discussing the Book of Nehemiah in Sunday School this past week. As she taught, I was struck by the passage where messengers are sent to Nehemiah asking him to come meet with them. Nehemiah refused five different times. He had prayed and he understood (through God’s wisdom) that the people who sent for him meant to do him harm and in fact to assassinate him so the building of the walls would not continue. When Nehemiah was able to accomplish in 52 days what others had failed to do for 70 years, they were shamed and recognized that Israel’s God had helped Nehemiah and the others do that work.
The most important part of the lesson was that Nehemiah had prayed and listened to God. Many times, I am a fool. I may pray. I may read the Bible, but I do not wait on God and meditate on Him and listen to Him. When I do not wait and listen and meditate, I do more harm than good. I find that out again and again. Pray. Read. Meditate. Wait. Listen. Wait and Listen, Jacob, you idiot.
I was listening to a minister online the other night who shared that some of the people we hang around with can hurt us. Sometimes other Christians can even be harmful to us. For example, I have Christian women friends who are married. I may go to lunch with them and it will just be a nice lunch between two friends. If I keep going with them, it can be toxic. People may see us together and start to talk. Soon, my reputation is ruined, or maybe what started as an innocent get-together proceeds into something that can become caustic. Or I may begin hanging around with non-Christians. The minister pointed out that Jesus was a friend to sinners and that the way to tell if we are helping or hurting them is to try the “Tug of War Test.” He said to imagine that you are in a tug of war with the non-Christian friend. He said that on your side are the Christians – your church, your Christian friends and Jesus Christ. On the other side is the world. If you see that you are being pulled to the world’s side to drop the rope. (Because the world can diminish our personal witness.) If you see that the non-Christian is being pulled to your side then hold on and keep pulling.