The Verbs #13 (Walk with the Wise)
20 Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
Remember this old saying, you are known by the company you keep. I have always been an old soul if you will. From as far back as I can remember, I loved being around people who were much older than I was. The church that I grew up in, had some of the finest elders you could ever hope to find. Most them were World War II veterans, quiet, reserved, respectful, and incredibly strong men. My parents would arrive early to church, for the prayer services that preceded our Sunday night services. I would slip out of the prayer room, and go hang out with the elders of the church. I learned so many things from these people, I couldn’t tell you a single sermon on faithfulness, not that they weren’t preached or taught, but faithfulness was something that was caught by watching the elders of my church. Every time the doors were open you would see those faithful men at the church. Not a single one of them are written in the annuals of a hall of fame, but to me they are heroes. When you say faithful, most people think of Hebrews 11 names. Names like Noah, Abraham, Moses, or Enoch. I think of Simon, Baskins, Edgin, Silvers, and Proctor, these were the men that taught me about faithful serving. I cannot tell you a single sermon that these men preached, because they weren’t preachers. However, their lives are simply one of the greatest sermons you could’ve ever watched. Every one of them, have went on to their reward. Everyone one of them finished the race and finished it so well. I can remember the days that I would stand in their aisles, or by their usher seats, and speak to them, but mainly I remember them speaking and me listening in on those conversations. There was a lot of wisdom flying around, I was then and am now trying to mop up what they dropped. I learned reverence, faithfulness, prayer, and serving from those men. I’d like to think that I am known for those same characteristics today. I strive to be a man that has reverence for the things of God, to be faithful, to be a man of prayer, and that I served my generation well. I want to be known by the company that I keep, so I do my best to keep company with God, and with people who will help me soar with eagles.
I would tell that just as you are known by the company that you keep, you are also known by the company that you don’t keep. Paul told the church in Corinth this…
I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
I believe that is exactly what this proverb is talking about hang out with good and wise people, and you’ll be challenged to live good and wise. Hang out with people who are crooked, who act the fool, and aren’t good, and you’ll find yourself facing some challenges. Sometimes the best thing that you can do, is to stop hanging around folks who bring you down, cause you to stumble, and consistently add stress and worry to your life. I have often said some of you need to ask the Lord to expose your enemies, but shouldn’t be surprised when you start to lose friends. Think you are alone in that you’re not. Zechariah prophesied about Jesus in Zechariah 13:6
6 And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’
Jesus called Judas His friend, He called those that crucified Him His friends. Sometimes are greatest resistance to a better life, is those that appear to be the closest to us. If you desire to walk and live differently I would start by getting a best friend that will never leave you nor forsake you, He is that friend that sticks closer than a brother. Who is this Friend? Jesus!
One thing about hanging out with those elders when I was kid, not one time did I ever get into trouble. By hanging around the wise, I avoided hanging with the fools. By hanging with good company, I avoided hanging with the bad company. Show me your friends and more often than not, I can show you your future. If you want to be the best, hang with the best. Get around them and learn, then apply what you’ve learned.