You are the company you decide to keep. This well-known saying is a short and weak version of Solomon’s true warning. Here is one of the most valuable proverbs for your advancement.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
◄ Proverbs 13:20 ► New International Version
Though you may be wise, foolish friends will eventually destroy you. Though you may be foolish, wise friends will show and teach you success. This is an easy way to prosper.
What a simple rule for wisdom and life! Get rid of foolish friends, and choose the wise for friends. You will grow in wisdom and avoid much trouble in life. Good athletes use superior competition to bring out their best, even if it means frequent training losses.
Giving up your friends is hard. You may believe the lie you can resist foolish friends. Or you may find your best friends are fools. Or your foolish friends may be popular, costing you status with peers. Or you may naively think you can help foolish friends.
The Bible declares, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor 15:33). The warning about deception is to save you, since many think friends are not dangerous. But if you allow an evil input in your life, you will lose your good manners.
How did Lot, Abraham’s nephew, end up in a cave with nothing but his two daughters pregnant by his incest? How? He moved toward Sodom and made friends in that wicked city (Gen 13:12). What a disaster for him, his wife, and five daughters. Be not deceived!
The best parents monitor every friend, for foolish friends are a great threat to children and youth. Many decent parents make schooling decisions to protect their children, but fail to monitor individual friends from school, work, church, family, sports, and neighbors.
This is one of the most important things you can do for the success of your children. Read the proverb again. The results are certain, but children and youth are not wise enough to choose their own friends, so you must reduce their choices to those meeting the criteria.
Fools cannot be real friends to a child of God. It is impossible, for they are incompatible by nature. They have nothing of value to offer. What is a fool? They do not fear God (Pr 1:7; Rom 16:17-18). Ignore your feelings or past history, and cut off your foolish friends.
David rejected fools (Ps 1:1; 101:1-8; 119:115); he chose friends of those fearing God (Ps 119:63,79). Did he have good friends? He had Jonathan (I Sam 18:1-4; 20:16-17; 23:16; II Sam 1:26)! He had King Hiram (I Kgs 5:1)! He had Ittai the Gittite (II Sam 15:21)!
How can you get rid of foolish friends? Be unavailable. Or hang around wise people, and foolish friends will flake off, because they do not like wise people. Or say you cannot do former activities due to conscience or Bible. Or tell them plainly your friendship is over.
How can you find wise friends? Look in faithful churches of Jesus Christ around the world, though these churches are few in number with few members. It is in these churches that God’s faithful children gather around the God and truth taught there.
Godly men are lovers of good men, so you must learn to discriminate wisely (Tit 1:8; Ps 16:3). Men can easily be ranked on a scale of virtue and wisdom, so wise men move toward those on the top of the scale, even selecting friends from a church’s membership.
How far should you flee fools? Very far! Do not go in their direction (Ps 1:1; Pr 1:10,15; 4:15; 9:6), and have no fellowship with them (Pr 14:7; Am 3:3; Eph 5:11-12)! Your soul and future are at stake. Find the way of good men, and go in that direction (Pr 2:20-21).
Marriage is picking a companion for life! Use this proverb for a spouse. Carefully prove a personal and independent fear of God, the prerequisite of wisdom. If you do, wisdom will guide and bless your marriage and family. If you do not, both will be severely damaged.
The friends you need above all others are God Himself and Jesus Christ. Abraham was God’s friend for carefully obeying Him and passionately worshipping Him (James 2:23).
Lord Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha for similar reasons (John 11:1-5). What about you?
Rev. Pastor Alves, BA, MSM
Gospel of Grace Baptist Church