Wisdom or Harm – The Choice is Yours
Written August 13, 2012
For the Youth
“He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm”
(New International Version)
Of all the wonderful verses in the book of Proverbs this one is probably my favorite. I probably like it so much because it is simple to understand, practical in its wisdom, and so versatile in its uses when counseling and teaching others.
Basically this verse teaches that the company we keep and the people we choose to associate with can benefit or harm our lives. If we walk, or hang out, with those that are wise, make good decisions with their life, are good Christians that love the Lord, and live in such a way that the love of Christ is visible and working in their hearts you will be blessed and grow because you are around them. The opposite is also true as those that choose to associate with foolish individuals that have no regard for others, the law, the things of God, or the possible consequence of their actions will cause harm to those that are around them.
Now, I’m pretty sure everyone that has read this verse and heard the basic explanation and application of this text will agree that what is written is good, true, right, and should be followed. It would be agreed that this commandment is for our benefit and is to help us live life to the fullest. Here’s the question. How are you doing with who you hang out with?
Now let me be clear, I’m not talking about your general outlook toward people and those that you are seen with, talk to, and spend time with. As Christians we need to be friendly, loving, kind, outgoing, tolerant, and have a Christ-like attitude toward others. We are not called to be snobs or Pharisees that look down at others we are called to love this lost world and share Christ with it. Christians should be the most loving, caring, and humble individuals that exists because of what Christ has done for us and our desire to honor Him all things.
What I am talking about are those people that are your close friends. Those ones you look to for fashion advice, the ones you hang out with and talk to and tell your secrets to. These are the ones you go on trips with, hang out in your room, play Xbox with for hours on end. The friends that influence your choices in music, movies, and food. How are you doing with these people?
Are your friends leading you towards wisdom or harm? Are they lifting you higher toward God or dragging you further away from God. Like it or not the friends you have and are close to is one of the most important choices you will ever make in your life.
Friends get us to do things we would never do on our own. Look around at an amusement park, you’ll easily find a group of friends dragging a reluctant member of the group toward a roller coaster. I’ve gotten many of my friends to try a new food that they would have never tried on their own. This also is true for the bad things of life as well. Ask anyone who has been addicted to drugs, or been incarcerated for a crime, usually there were other “friends” involved in the decision making process.
If there is one thing that I hope I can impart to you in reading this article it would be this, friendship is a powerful thing, so choose wisely. Those that you hang out with, spend time with, and develop close relationships with will influence your life. The question is whether that influence will lead toward wisdom or towards harm?
Now, I know there are probably two things on your mind. First you’re asking “what about the bad friends I’ve got now that I hang out with that I know are bad influences but I’m friends with, what do I do?” The other is “how do I know if my friends are good and how do I make friends with those that will lead me towards good things?” To deal with these two things let me give you three words and a couple of questions to keep in the back of your mind as you consider the friends you have and will make in the future. First the words, direction, devotion, and discretion.
Direction: what direction do you want to go in? Where are you going now? Where do you want to be? If you love the Lord and are building your relationship to Him and doing things for Him then it will lead you to places that your bad friends don’t want to go.
Devotion: what are you devoted to and what are your friends devoted to? If all your friends are devoted to is partying or drinking or sports or dating, then that is where they are going to drag you. If they are devoted to God and are seeking to honor Him with their lives then they will help you as you do the same.
Discretion: With something as powerful as friendship and what is going to influence your life exercise discretion with what and who you let influence your life. By the way discretion simply means the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation. To exercise discretion then is to maintain the right to decide for yourself about whatever is going on.
Let me end with a couple of questions that I hope will help you to walk with those that are wise and avoid harm in your life
What do I want most in life? (By the way honoring and glorifying God should be somewhere in your answer)
Do my friend(s) bring me closer to God or further away from God? (Even if you’re trying to reach your friend for Christ that process should bring you closer to God because you are praying, witnessing, and talking about God in the process)
Would my parents approve of my friend(s)? (Remember, your parents are looking out for you and they are much wiser than you think, cherish their opinions and talk to them, their insights may surprise you.)
What standards am I using to choose and maintain friendships? (you have standards about the food you eat, the cloths you wear, and the places you go what about the people who will influence the course of your life?)
Are my friends helping me gain what I want most in life? (Friends should always help you in your goal of glorying and honoring God with whatever it is you want most out of life)