He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).
All of us come under the influence of other people in some measure. It is the people that we ‘open’ ourselves up to the most that influence us the most. This can have both positive and negative implications. Think of an immature teenager who begins hanging out with the wrong crowd; eventually he/she begins to mimic their behavior. On the other side is the person who spends time with spiritually healthy people; in time they are influenced in a positive way. You get the idea.
In the Bible there is a story of a man named Joash who was king in Jerusalem. During his reign the Bible says he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” This happened as long as he was under the influences of a godly priest named Jehoiada. After this priest died Joash began listening to wicked people who offered him ungodly advice; the Bible describes them as the “officials of Judah,” and were eventually able to convince the king to abandon his walk with God. What’s more, when the new priest, Zechariah, who happened to be the son of Jehoiada, the former priest, came to talk to the king and urge him not to forsake his walk with God, he was stoned to death! You can read the story in 2 Chronicles 24:1-2, 17-22.
How does a righteous man turn his back on God and even have people killed who try to talk sense into him? Simple. He started listening to the wrong crowd.
The three greatest influencers in your life should be:
God’s Word. You will not mess up your life if you read the Bible and then do what it says. It’s just that simple. Right behavior, morality, doctrine, conduct, theology, and ministry methodology will never go astray if it has its basis in God’s Word. Read it and live it.
God’s People. It’s important that we spend time with godly people who love the Lord, who are living the life, and bear evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. The cumulative effect of their influence on your life cannot be over stated.
Myself, when it comes to making major decisions at our church, I do not do so without the input of godly people who I know and trust. There is great safety and wisdom in having a multitude of counselors.
Let me be very blunt here. We need to seek the advice of people who truly love God. We can always find a group of self-serving fools that will affirm our sin and dysfunction because by doing so it allows them to justify ‘their’ lifestyle.
God’s Church. When you come to church on a regular basis and walk in with a prepared heart ready to hear from God, you will often find that God DOES speak to you in very direct ways. Almost every Sunday people come up to me after service and say something like, “Pastor that message today was exactly what I needed to hear” or “I was just reading and studying that very same passage this week” or “God really spoke to me today” - which amazes me because I wasn’t directing any of my comments towards these persons. When that happens I instantly realize that it is not about me. It is simply God doing what He does – speaking to people who have prepared their hearts.
Who you listen to will ultimately determine what you do. Life is too short for us to be making one bad decision after another because we follow fools. We need God, His Word, the Church, and each other. The only question is, “Who are we listening to?”
Be blessed and make smart decisions.