Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV)
Halfway through the 22nd chapter of Proverbs is the start of 30 Sayings of the Wise. I remember chuckling at that because if these are the sayings of the wise, what have I been reading in these previous chapters?
In any case, of the six sayings we get in the chapter, the third one jumped up and slapped me upside the head in particular.
The warning about the company we keep is an aspect of life that still affects me today. I can look back and see the influence people had on me just by spending a lot of time around them. What this saying mentions about learning the ways of those around you, makes it very clear that learning is about how we allow the lives of others to shape our own, however independent we think we are.
Being around people inclined to humour may not have made me funnier, but it did make me more apt to see a quip or one liner in situations. Being around people inclined to pray seriously and deeply on issues influenced me (and continues to influence me) to take prayer seriously. Being around people committed to being an agent of change still provokes me to not see myself settling for what is but pursuing what can be.
Likewise there have been seasons where the company I was around had interests and personalities that were not as helpful or pure. There’s an intentionality being around certain people – just because we share the same space at times doesn’t necessarily mean I am ‘around you’. In those seasons around those people I know I wasn’t so keen to do what was right in God’s sight.
That was about the active choices I took in the people I chose to be around. That’s why I acknowledge the importance of the company I keep. If I choose well it will rub off on me.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden