Finding Association That Will Build You Up
DID you ever watch a demolition crew tear down a house? In a few days the crew can destroy what it took months to build. As with a house, so with other things; it is easier to destroy than to build. In the case of a young person, it takes time for his parents to build up in him respect for honesty, integrity, truthfulness and morality, but bad associations can severely damage or even destroy that respect in a short while. That is why the Bible warns: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33.
Possibly you know of some young person who had been reared in what you regarded as a good family but who fell in with bad company and got into trouble. This is a common occurrence, especially among young students on college campuses where standards of morality are low. On the matter of honesty, a nationwide study by Columbia University revealed that more than half of American college students have cheated. Certainly the companionship of persons such as these will not build up a young person but more than likely will have a detrimental effect upon him.
Although you may appreciate the effect that bad associations have upon young people, do you ever consider what effect they can have on you? Perhaps some of your fellow workers have gotten into the habit of stealing from your employer. Seeing this and hearing their boasting can be detrimental to you if you keep company with them. You are likely to begin justifying stealing as they do—claiming that it is not wrong in this case because of not being paid enough. Their association might thus weaken your respect for the moral principle of honesty and cause it to crumble. No matter how they may rationalize it, stealing is never the right thing to do. It is morally wrong. The Bible sets the right moral standard to be followed at all times when it says: “You must not steal.” (Ex. 20:15) It would be better for you to seek the association of employees who respect that moral standard.
It is very difficult to be in frequent association with bad company and remain different from it. Group pressure is always toward conformity with the thinking, speaking and actions of the group. It is a very exceptional person who can withstand that pressure for a prolonged length of time. Would it not be better to seek upbuilding association in the company of persons who have high standards?
The literature you read and screen dramas you see can also affect you for good or for bad. Can it be said that literature and dramas that magnify murder, thievery, falsehood, sadism, immorality and every other debased subject are upbuilding association? How can you be benefited from filling your mind with the vile deeds of the world’s worst people? The Toronto Daily Star of October 1, 1966, said: “Perversions seem almost prosaic in today’s cinema.” A writer in The Saturday Evening Post of November 10, 1962, observed: “I don’t want to get acclimated to rape either on the screen or off it. And I certainly don’t want my children to get acclimated to it.” Would it not be better to select literature and entertainment that is upbuilding, that leaves you with a deeper appreciation of wholesome qualities?
The finest literary association you could find is the Bible itself. When you read it you are having association with persons who were inspired by God. The thoughts they express are His thoughts, the principles they set out are His principles and the counsel they give is His counsel. What better influence could you find? It can elevate a person’s thinking and way of life from the low level that is common in the world to the high level of true Christians. This transformation is mentioned at 1 Peter 4:3, 4, where it is written: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.”
As can be seen from this scripture, persons in the first century who were elevated by God’s Word from the “low sink of debauchery” that was the common level of living in the Roman world did not continue “running with” or having close association with those degraded people. Instead, they sought the upbuilding association of people who lived by the high standards of God’s Word. That is the wise course to take today. But where can you find upbuilding association?
You will find that association with Jehovah’s witnesses is upbuilding. Their standard of conduct is the high standard set out in the Bible. They strive by means of home Bible studies to bring peoples of all kinds into contact with the uplifting influence of God’s Word. By the love that Jehovah’s witnesses show for one another, they demonstrate that they are truly Jesus’ disciples, for Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) An observer in Liberia saw this and remarked: “We often criticize you people, but there is one thing we can’t deny—you love one another, and that really is the way of the truth.”
Since God’s written Word and Jehovah’s witnesses are found almost everywhere on earth, it is not difficult to find upbuilding association. Benefit from it by taking advantage of the free home Bible study service that Jehovah’s witnesses offer to everyone. It will build up your faith in the Bible, expand your appreciation for the Bible’s high standards and deepen your understanding of its life-giving truths.