“Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.”
The question as to why the house of God was forsaken was the wrong question. Nehemiah couldn’t understand why the people of God forsook the house of God after all the work they had done to rebuild the temple and the wall. He thought the people would continue to do right in his absence, but to his dismay, he found that they forsook the house of the LORD.
The reason the people forsook the house of God was because of their inability to separate from those who would pull them away from the house of the LORD. These people allied themselves to the enemies of the LORD, and those enemies eventually pulled them away from what they were supposed to do. Nehemiah should have asked, “Who caused you to forsake the house of God” instead of asking, “Why is the house of God forsaken?”
The problem that Nehemiah faced is an age-old problem. It is always a “who” that influences the “what.” Paul asked the Christians in Galatians 5:7, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” As well as the people were doing, Paul knew that the only reason they stopped obeying the truth was because they were associating themselves with the wrong people. Several lessons can be learned about the importance of associations.
First, nobody is above the ability to forsake the truth. You must always remember that it doesn’t matter how strong you are because your weakest association dictates your strength. To think that you can control your weak associations and that they will never influence you is simply ludicrous. The strongest Christians are capable of forsaking the ways of the LORD if they have the wrong associations. Bad associations have always influenced good people to go bad; so, why would you continue to associate with the wrong people?
Second, your present associations dictate your future direction and actions. Anytime you have to deal with a person who has strayed from the truth, look no further than their associations to understand why they forsook the LORD. Every person who used to stand for truth strayed because they didn’t guard their associations while they were strong. I have seen the strongest Christians change because they thought they could manage their weak associations. Let me make this clear, weak associations manage you; you don’t manage them. The reason I can say that they manage you is because if you managed them, you wouldn’t associate with them. The fact that you are willing to come to down to the weaker associations level shows who is in control of the relationship. My friend, you show me what books you read and the people you allow yourself to spend time with, and I will show you where you will stand and what you will do in the future.
Third, the answer to being faithful to the LORD is to guard the “who’s” in your life. The doctrine of separation is given to guard you against those who will cause you to forsake the ways of the LORD. Christian, never give any person a blanket approval. Every association must be guarded at all times. When people you associate with begin to change, you need to pull away, because if you don’t, you will eventually go with them. Let me ask you, how bright is your future compared to your associations? Always remember that you can control the “what” in your life if you control the “who.”