“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” – Romans 1:22-23.
Look again at Proverbs 13:20 (ESV): “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” This verse is telling us that there is an alternative to wisdom. It contains a contrasting preposition, “but.” The clause is a warning: “but the companion of fools will suffer harm.“
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “Oh, he’s a great kid; he just got in with the wrong crowd.” We can easily become like the people we surround ourselves with. It would seem good advice to surround ourselves with good people. I know some of you may be thinking, “the Bible says to love all people.” Yes, we are all called to be kind to others, regardless of their state of need or brokenness. So how do you balance your heart to love people without finding yourself suffering harm from being a companion of fools?
The key is to give people different levels of access—to knowing you, spending time with you, speaking into your life—and thus controlling the influence they have on you. That is a way of letting the right people into your life while minimizing the influence that “fools” have on your life. It requires wisdom. We need friends who love us as we are, but are also courageous enough to speak the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. These type of friends really listen and then speak wisdom and truth. They are the friends who come alongside us when we are not at our best and encourage us. The truth is we all have blind spots, things we may not even know we need to work on. It’s important to get help from others to see them clearly and grow into the callings in our lives. Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” These are the people that need complete access.
On the other hand, if we associate with fools, we can easily find ourself ourselves looking in the mirror only to find another fool. So choose your companions wisely. Be with people who can help you grow into the person you want to be. Spending time with fools will only hurt you in the long run.
Thankfully, wisdom is not a fleeting dream. Instead, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5). In order for us to be intentionally wise, we must walk with the wise.
- What qualities do you value most in a friend?
- Read Proverbs 13:20. How has this proverb been demonstrated in your life?
- What can we do to ensure we don’t suffer from the companionship of fools?