Over the years I have met many Christians who struggle in various areas of life and simply cannot figure out why. Their personal spiritual life is struggling. Their marriage has been struggling for many years. No matter how many parenting books they read, their children are getting worse. One of the reasons they often struggle to figure out why is because on the surface it would appear they are doing all the right things. They read their Bibles. They pray regularly. They attend church and Bible study weekly. So what’s going wrong? What are they doing or not doing that needs to change? That is when I usually begin to ask how they spend their leisure time. What do they like to do in their spare time and what kind of people do they like to spend time with? Proverbs 13:20 tells us that “whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Human beings by nature learn by imitation and are very impressionable. Privately, a person may be doing all the right things but if they are spending time with all the wrong people, then the two may be canceling each other out. Whether we realize it or not, the people we spend time with will have an influence on our lives, whether positive or negative. They will influence our thoughts, our behavior, our habits, the way we view marriage, parenting, finances, friendships, and every other aspect of life. The wife who struggles in her marriage may be privately doing all the right things but may be more negatively influenced by what her girlfriends are telling her than she realizes. The father whose children are distant may be more negatively influenced by his buddies than he cares to admit. Furthermore, the “companion of fools” are not always personal friends in one’s life. Sometimes a person’s closest companion is television or movies. Bottom line: to become more like Christ, it is not enough to read God’s word, pray, and regularly attend church and Bible studies. We should be willing to take a close look at our friends and ask ourselves— ‘Are these people really helping me become more like Christ or are they hindering me?’ Or, if you do not have any close personal friends who encourage and inspire you in your pursuit of holiness, you should pray to find some. Because according to Proverbs 13:20, to become wise is to walk with the wise, not to walk by yourself. We all need friends, but not just any friends. We need friends who will challenge us and sharpen us in our walks with God.
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