“He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
This morning the Governor’s order for those of us in Colorado to stay at home went into effect. Since we can’t be physically walking with wise people or fools, what does Proverbs 13:20 have to do with us right now? Even in our homes we are continually making decisions on who we will be hanging out with…on television, in our readings, phone calls, etc. So with that in mind, let’s consider this proverb and how it might speak to us.
This proverb is illustrated really well by a story in the Old Testament (1 Kings 12-14) about the son of King Solomon. His name was Rehoboam. When he inherited the kingdom from his father, he had it made. He was King over a rich and prosperous nation. He only had one decision to make as he began his reign. The people came to him asking how he would rule them. They asked him to not treat them harshly but to be kind to them and, if he would be, they would serve him well. He told them to come back in three days and he would give them an answer. First he sought the advice of the elders (the wise ones). They told him that if he would be kind to the people, they would always be his servants. (Jesus said something similar: “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all!”) Rehoboam then went to his “friends” (the fools), seeking their advice. They told him to place heavy burdens on them and to be cruel to the people…“scourge them with scorpions”…rule them with an iron fist. Rehoboam decided to walk with his “friends” and followed their advice. The result was a total disaster. The people rose up in rebellion and the kingdom was divided in two, Judah and Israel…with continual war between the two sides. Rehoboam ended up losing everything of true value and had no peace in his life.
In our lives, we too have many decisions to make that will greatly impact our lives and the lives of others. Who do we call our “friends” and who do we go to for advice? Ultimately, there are only two kinds of advice…”godly” or “ungodly”. The advice will either lead you on the right path or down the wrong road (sometimes it seems like the right path is a backpacking trail going up a mountain and the wrong direction seems like a freeway that is so easy to travel on!).
When you are in need of advice, bear in mind that everyone will have some for you! Everyone else can tell you how you should live and what you should do. The real key is who is that someone else.
Many people really want to change their lives for the better, but for some reason they can’t seem to make much progress. There are many issues involved with this, but one big factor is the people that are influencing their lives the most. It is important to realize that usually people become like the “friends” they are around the most. If someone is around many positive people, they will likely be more positive (of course the opposite is also true). If someone wants to become a better person, they would do well to look for “friends” who will challenge them to improve spiritually, morally, and in every area of life (or at the least, not be influencing them the other direction!). Keep in mind these “friends” include such things as television, books, phone calls, etc.
Perhaps we could restate Proverbs 13:20 in even simpler terms: “You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re walking with the turkeys!” Being confined to our homes does not mean that we should not be seeking to be with the wise. Take time each day to study the daily readings from Holy Scripture and/or pick a Book of the Bible to study. Also, take time to read books that will inspire your spiritual life. Listen to positive programs such as podcasts on AncientFaith.com.
There on plenty of good movies to watch that won’t have us walking with “turkeys (fools). One that we watch every Great Lent is “The Island” – I get more out of that each year. It does have English subtitles, but in a couple of minutes you forget they are even there. You can find it many places for free.
So let’s make the most of this time of being restricted to our homes. May the God of all wisdom guide us to make wise decisions in our lives.