Thursday, September 23, 2021
This week we have been looking at Solomon’s advice for how we can have great relationships. His next bit of insight into strengthening our relational pursuits is this:
“Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble.” Prov. 24:1-2
One of the hardest things we face in our relationships with others is when they give us advice about who can be our friend and who shouldn’t be. It hits at the very core of who we believe we are. It seems as if they are saying, “You’re not perceptive enough to see what this will do to you so I need to tell you.” Most of us don’t like being told we need help in any area of our lives, and especially in the area of choosing our friends. This is an incredible area of tension between parents and teenagers.
But let’s be honest. We are blinded to the dangers of certain people’s influence in our lives because of a self-centered attitude we have in the relationship: we focus only on the value and pleasure they bring to us in a purely fleshly, worldly, sensual, and materialistic way. It may even be that they have an exterior resemblance to a spiritually minded person and they seem to be trying hard to do the right thing. Don’t be suckered. They are only playing a game based on their own insecurities and desire to find value in what you give them. Their hearts are plotting personal gain and pleasure, not true self-sacrificing love.
The fact that we all have a desire to be a part of something bigger than we are as individuals can become a problem. The world and its cronies seem to have the most appealing opportunities. That’s because the basic need of our heart is for relational acceptance that offers a meaningful existence. The world thinks the local bar or tavern is the place that provides such benefits. Oh, it does offer relational acceptance, but what about the meaningful existence part. One huge aspect of a meaningful existence is security, and where is that found in what the world offers? Only Jesus Christ can provide a truly meaningful, fulfilling, and abundant existence. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly (or to the fullest).”
We have been looking in the wrong places and to the wrong people for our place and purpose. We have also been the wrong kind of people to those who are still looking as well. When Jesus provides us with the full abundance of life through His unconditional love and acceptance and empowerment, shouldn’t that make us who know Him the core group of a movement in the world that attracts people looking to be a part of something bigger than they are? Yes it should. But we are still stuck in the flesh looking for additional acceptance and approval, and we are being dragged back into the mud of mediocrity rather than standing on the Rock of real relationship.
The choices we make about who we allow to have an influence in our lives are probably the single most important choices we ever make. Listen to what God’s Word says about it:
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Exodus 23:2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”
Proverbs 4:14 “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.”
2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be yolked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?”
Now remember, we are not talking about separation from all sinners so that we never have contact with them. We must reach out to them in Christ’s love and draw them to Jesus for salvation. What we must do is separate ourselves from their influence. Think of it this way: if you are in a relationship of any kind with an unsaved person in which the major flow of influence moves from them to you, put up some boundaries quick. You will be dragged down. When you are strong enough to take a stand and the major flow of influence moves from you to them, then go for it and win them to Jesus. That will make for a great relationship!