Has anyone ever said something like this to you . . .
"Birds of a feather flock together."
"If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?"
Since we aren’t birds and our friends are unlikely to go cliff jumping, the message of these phrases can get a little lost in translation. Perhaps a few words from a juvenile court judge can clear the matter up.
Recently, an email from a former juvenile court judge found its way into my inbox. The focus of his email was prayer, but a few sentences he wrote at the beginning got me thinking about Y-O-U.
As a juvenile court judge, I often told young people who entered my court, "Show me who you are hanging around with, and I will show you what you are going to become like."
Scripture puts it this way: "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (Prov. 13:20).
You don’t have to enter a juvenile court room for these words to have meaning. The judge and the writer of Proverbs are preaching a simple message that all of us would be wise to remember.
1. When you spend your time with wise people, you will become wiser yourself.
2. When you spend your time with unwise people, you are guaranteed to get hurt.
I’m sure the judge could tell lots of stories of young criminals whose feet were set on the wrong path simply by choosing the wrong friends. I can tell you plenty of stories from my own life of times I got burned because I let myself be a "companion of fools." I bet you have some of those stories too.
Certainly, we should be friendly to non-Christians and are free to spend some time with people that might fall into the category of being "unwise." But our closest friends—the people we spend the most time with—should be wise. That means they should fear God—the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). And they should know and seek to live out the wisdom found in God’s Word. We should notice that when we’re around them, we become wiser ourselves.
So let me join the judge in asking you, do you have wise friends? If so, you get a gold star. Even more importantly, you get the promise that those friends will help you grow in your own walk with Christ. On the flipside, are you closest friends non-Christians? Or maybe they’re Christians who consistently make unwise choices or disregard the wisdom found in God’s Word. Be warned! Those girls are likely to cause you harm or to encourage you to do harm to yourself. (Ah . . . that’s what all that bridge jumping talk is about!)
The choice is simple, but not always easy. Choose wise friends, and gain wisdom. Choose unwise friends, and gain trouble and pain. So go on, and take the judge’s advice. Show us who you are hanging around with. Your answer will inevitably show us where you’re destined to end up.