Scroll down the pages of history. From the beginning of time, history’s records are full of wicked or negative people. Take a look at the family history of Jesus Christ. Jacob was a cheat. Rahab was a prostitute. David was an adulterer. In fact, the entire Bible is full of imperfect people. Peter, the disciple of Christ, had a temper. Noah drank too much. The list goes on.
I realize that God can use anyone and everyone in spite of their faults. Thanks to his unconditional love, we are given second chances. God helps us persevere through this fallen world with the help of His Word. Proverbs is one book in the Bible that is full of simple nuggets of truth. The book, authored by King Solomon, King David’s son, was written to help us learn how to live wisely, steering us toward a more meaningful life.
The first chapter of Proverbs (v. 11 & 15) says, “If they say. ‘Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul’… do no go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.”
In this passage, Solomon is instructing us to avoid the company of certain types of people, namely those who plot evil.
The second chapter of Proverbs (v. 11) takes this further and tells us how to order our steps in a sinful world, “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”
What does discretion and understanding look like? In the third chapter (v. 29-31) we read: “Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse a man for no reason-when he done you no harm. Do not envy a violent man or chose any of his ways.”
As we move further through the chapters, we move deeper in our understanding. We are told to exercise discretion and understanding in our relationships and life choices. Do not plot. Do no accuse. Do not envy. Reading chapter four (v. 14-15), the lessons are restated and thereby reinforced: “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go your own way.”
Avoid the company of evil people and do not follow in their ways. Instead, go your own way. The author is asserting here that you are better off on your own in this big, wide world than in such company. We are called to be holy, just as God is holy. We have no business meddling in sinful behaviors.
Thankfully, not all people are evil or wicked. Some people are simply negative in their attitude and perceptions. It is important to also discern negative influences in your life. Act wisely in your interactions with such people, whether in a work or community context. Refuse to let your perceptions be colored by the negative things you hear. Rewards are to be had when you refuse to let negativity become your perceptive framework.
The goal is to foster around you a larger community of people that is generally positive in their perspective. When negativity is present, recognize when or if it is having a negative effect on you. In such cases, listen to the Proverbs, and move away. Proverbs 14:7: “Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on this lips.”
Besides telling us whom to avoid, Proverbs also tells us how to make friends. Proverbs 12:26: “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” This is a great reminder for those of us with hundreds of requests for friendship on Facebook. Having hundreds of Facebook friends does not translate into real friends, or even good friends. Proverbs 18:24 describes a good friend: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer then a brother.”
Find a friend who sticks closer then a brother. Find the company of holy and trustworthy people. We are not meant to live alone. Neither are we meant to find ourselves in the midst of wrong company.
We can summarize some of Proverb’s instructions about the company we keep as follows:
The good news is that there are many good people in this world. Proverbs attests to this fact again and again. I wish I received a quarter for every time I heard someone say that “a good person is hard to find.” I have simply found this not to be true. Where there are negative or evil people, there are also wise and holy people. They are everywhere, in every country, culture, and in all strata of society. Let us endeavor to seek meaningful friendships with such people.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)