Who’s Influencing You?
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” Proverbs 13:20 NASB
I was speaking with my husband recently, and he told me that it is good to seek wise counsel on subjects that we may not understand completely and that there is no humiliation in that. As a matter of fact, only pride would get in the way of someone needing advice but not asking for it.
This conversation coupled with a sermon I listened to recently got me to pondering about how to decide who we allow to influence us. Like everything else in my life, I wanted to know God’s perspective on influence, so I, of course, turned to the Bible, our Playbook. And as usual, God’s Word does not disappoint! I read so many passages that relate to how your relationship with others can impact you, and I know that God wants us to learn something from His Word.
The Power of the Company We Keep
Proverbs 13:20 states, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (NASB). If you are anything like me, you want to avoid harm at all costs. I especially want to avoid harm that comes as a result of my own doing. The Bible is clear – steer clear of the company of people who act foolishly and befriend wise people.
But, what’s so special about wise people? They aren’t any fun!
Look at the story of King Solomon. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what he wished for God to give him. Solomon responded to God in prayer and asked for “an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9 NASB).
God was delighted that this young king had such a thoughtful and wise request. God was so pleased that, not only did He grant Solomon his request, but added to it “both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days” (1 Kings 3:13 NASB), and a long life if Solomon kept God’s statutes and commandments. King Solomon went on to be known as the greatest and wisest king of his time. I cannot think of anything I want that would bring me more pleasure than the continued blessings and protection of God.
King Solomon was the kind of man that people sought out for his wisdom. The queen of Sheeba went to test the wisdom of King Solomon when she heard how wise he was. Even though she was skeptical at first, she had to admit that King Solomon was substantially wiser than she was told. The queen said to Solomon, “How blessed are your men, how blessed are these servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom” (1 Kings 10:8 NASB).
What this story illustrates is that all of us can be blessed just by associating with those who are wiser than us and not only listening but applying what we learn. This is how we can become wise.
Wise Counsel Brings Success
Imagine knowing what God’s purpose for your life is, but that is all He has told you. You try to figure out the next steps on your own but aren’t successful. You tell a few people what was revealed to you, but they don’t understand because God hasn’t communicated His plans for them yet, so they discourage you.
Remember Proverbs 18:2 NIV, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.” Instead of admitting their lack of understanding, they tell you what they think, which is of no help to you.
Friends who don’t understand shouldn’t discourage you but true friends would encourage, maybe even help you find someone who is able to understand and help your plan to progress. The thing is, God may have given you the plan, but expects you to seek wise counsel from people who have done similar things. Or, seek counsel from those who can just point you in the direction of people who have done similar things.
If you allow foolish people to influence you, God’s plan for you may never be attained. But if you are influenced by wise counselors, that plan will succeed. The people who you allow to influence you will determine whether you lead a successful and fulfilling life glorifying God, or if you live the rest of your life wishing for success.
So, What’s the Play Call?
First, do a Proverbs 14:7 (ESV) and “Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge”. I’m not suggesting that you abandon all of your friends, but what I am suggesting is that you pay close attention to your behavior and if you notice that you are acting foolishly because of the company you keep – then it may be time to distance yourself.
Second, we must make the decision to “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20 ESV). When we choose wisely, we are blessed. Read Proverbs 3:13-35 and you will find out many ways that God blesses those who seek wisdom. It will greatly benefit you to find some mentors and others who have sound judgment and makes good decisions to soak up their wisdom.
If you cannot readily identify wise people in your life, pick up some good books. A lot of tried and true life lessons are hidden in plain sight between book covers.