The Power of Friends and Community
Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink. Habakkuk 2:15
By the time I left college, I’d been wrestling for most of my life, being instructed by someone else on when and how to exercise. Frankly, I was tired of it. I looked forward to doing what I wanted, when I wanted. As it turns out though, I’m not the best coach for me. I just don’t work that hard on my own.
I now go to a gym where we work together in groups or classes, something I once viewed as only for young moms at the local YMCA. Accountability, fellowship, and competition now push me to work and train harder than I ever would have on my own. At the gym, I’ve learned that we can be much better together than we are alone.
This principle works both ways though. Instead of spending time with those who want to exercise before work, I could just as easily surround myself with those who want to go to the bar after, which would have a very different outcome.
This is the principle which Habakkuk addresses in today’s passage where he warns against using this power of community to drag others down. Just as we can motivate each other to be better, we can likewise encourage each other to engage in destructive behavior. Misery loves company and if we are enslaved to something, it makes us feel better if others are too.
Whether we like it or not, who we spend our time with, influences our behavior. If we surround ourselves with those who want recovery and faith, we’ll find that we’ll grow in those things. We must use this, surrounding ourselves with those who are going in the same direction that we need to go. We also will likely need to make some painful decisions, avoiding those going in the opposite direction. Finally, we must choose to be the kind of people who encourage our friends to grow and who don’t drag others down.
God made us to live in community, but we can be better or worse together, depending on the choices we make. If we want faith, life, and recovery, we must pursue those things and we must surround ourselves with others who also want those things.