“The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
A tree fell in a primordial forest. Day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, and so on, the tree was in contact with water and minerals, which little by little leached into the cells of the tree until eventually it became what we know as “petrified wood.”
How does someone become wise? How does someone become a leader? For Joshua, it was from hanging out with Moses. It was from submitting to the influence of God’s Spirit.
We have long known that people tend to become like those they hang out with. Proximity provides opportunity for influence, and whether that influence is intentional or passive, like osmosis, it still happens. We are often influenced just by being around someone.
Therefore, it makes sense that we should choose carefully who will be our closest companions. This is not to say we need to wrap ourselves up in a cocoon to avoid people who may not have the greatest reputation. To do that would run counter to the example and instructions of Jesus. But it is to say that we need to learn how to be in the world but not of it. We clearly need to learn how to spend time with people who need to know the Lord, so that we become their influencer rather than them becoming ours. Our deepest fellowship must take place among the community of the redeemed. At the same time, relationships we influence must take place in the world.
Lord, Help us to find the right balance in this fulfills Your intention. Amen.