As followers of Jesus, we are not required to hang around people who bring undue peer pressure. Yes, God commands that we love our enemies and to forgive without limit yet He also cautions against reckless abandon of the senses. Our caring and devoted Father desires that we exercise prudence when it comes to who we allow into our space.
Proverbs 13:20. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
In the past, I used to ignore His pleas and ultimately suffered the consequences to my detriment. Many times, God removed the harmful influences but not without kicking and screaming from this rebellious child. This caused more conflict because it felt like He was trying to withhold something good. Since I didn’t understand God’s character, this created a lot of tension and outrage in my heart and mind. But the Lord knows about the leverage that others are able to exert on us along with the profound impacts that follow.
From the very beginning, He witnessed the intrinsic need for humans to connect with one another.
Genesis 2:18. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
In this verse, the two words which stand out are helper and suitable. As humans with limited knowledge, we tend to overlook these characteristics in favour of other insignificant features such a financial success and physical attraction due to superficiality. But God’s primary focus is always on the heavenly and enduring aspects of life.
Proverbs 27:17. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
The truth is that everyone worships something regardless of their disposition. A person may not identify with a religious group but they have their own set of practices and beliefs which act as guiding principles. Every human heart has been fully-equipped with a throne and whatever is placed upon it is what they will bow down to. Anything you seek with the greatest passion and attention is your god(s).
Psalm 16:4. Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
The idols are countless and can take on plenty of different forms. This includes but is not limited to people, money, sex, popularity, love, worry, death, self, material possessions and so forth. To varying degrees, we all succumb to diverse idols but a disciple of Jesus is in continuous awareness to make Him top priority in spite of stumbling.
Psalm 37:4-7. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Through persistent pursuit of Christ, we are seeking the righteousness of God. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit sensitizes us to His presence and graciously convicts when we’ve strayed off course. We may be a part of the Kingdom of God but we exist on a planet which operates in the realm of relentless darkness. In essence, the world is anti-God therefore we must remain wise and vigilant. The Lord doesn’t hold back when He warns of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing because He knows that we are under perpetual assault.
1 Corinthians 15:33. Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
We should not be so quick to permit others to infiltrate the stronghold. There is a horde of instances in the Bible whereby people, especially men, fall prey to the wrong individual(s).
- After trusting the serpent, Adam and Eve eat the apple that causes The Fall and unleashes hell on humanity.
- Samson, a man of immense physical strength, gives away his secret to a wicked lady friend that betrays him. The captors gouge out his eyes and enslave him.
- King David commits adultery with his loyal soldier’s wife and later has him killed in battle.
- Joseph is thrown into prison after Potiphar’s wife accuses him of rape because he refuses to have sex with her.
These are just a few examples of how intricately woven we are and the importance of discernment. In some cases, we can do everything right and still get swept into a storm. From personal experience, my family engaged in destructive activities so I was involuntarily involved by association. But for the most part, we play a key role when it comes to who we choose to accommodate in our lives. There needs to be an exertion of sound judgment because the stakes are high and repercussions are real.
Deuteronomy 13:6-8. If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.
God provides very clear guidance with respect to who we should welcome and avoid. We are under no obligation to forfeit our obedience to the Lord in exchange to appease others. With time and maturity, I’ve become accutely selective with the type of people that keep in my company.
Proverbs 12:26. The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Nowadays, if something doesn’t sit well within my spirit then I stop and ask God about it. I can’t afford to be ignorant and overlook critical qualities which He has rightfully established for our benefit.
The Lord has a zero tolerance policy for gossip.
Proverbs 20:19. A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
He alerts us to the dangers of unresolved anger issues.
Proverbs 22:24-25. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
He highlights the seriousness of immorality and self-indulgence as both bring ruin.
Proverbs 29:3. A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
God’s requests are reasonable because none of these so-called friendships have the ability to bear any blessings. In fact, it’s like pouring gasoline over yourself, running into a burning building and expecting to live. Given His insight, God knows we’ll falter but that shouldn’t be the life which we settle for. The eagerness to please Him should outweigh all other options and in turn we’ll receive His everlasting gifts of wisdom, peace and protection.
In summary, I spend the majority of my time seeking God, not people.
1 Corinthians 1:25. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.