[reprinted from November 9, 2010]
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Â Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)
â€œYou are who you hang around withâ€ was a popular saying when I was a teenager. I hated it. My parents seem to love to say it. I had a couple of friends who didnâ€™t think lying was a big deal. I remember my parents told me I couldnâ€™t go to see a certain movie because it was too sexually graphic. (Trust me â€“ graphic then was not in the same universe as it is now!) Anyway, I wanted to see it. My friends laughed and shrugged and said, â€œJust tell them what they want to hear and weâ€™ll go to the other one. No big deal. No one will know.â€ So I did. I didnâ€™t enjoy the forbidden movie like I thought I would. Lying about where I was. Lying about homework. Lyingâ€¦was becoming a way of life. And I so resented my parents asking me stuff! That meant I had to lie again! Soâ€¦actuallyâ€¦it was their fault I was lying!
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Â Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
The deception that nothing was actually my fault continued all through my adult life until one pivotal night. I could justify my actions and always spin the blame away from me. Sometimes to do that, I had to run in the opposite direction. I had to distance myself from the truth, right? Then I began to tire from running. It was no longer a game. I was exhausted. â€œI give up!â€ and there was Jesus, standing right there where He had been watching and waiting all this time.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. Â 1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)
I had to give up my old life so that New Life, Godâ€™s Light, could be in me. And it is a â€œtotal makeoverâ€! The â€˜cleanâ€™ that comes with confession and repentance (turning away, giving up the old) is a cleanliness, a newness, that is difficult to describe and cannot be found any where else. No self-help book, self-awareness program, or anything that starts with self is able to succeed as a forever change in my life unless I start first with Jesus. That is only the beginning. So many think that their life will become perfect and no temptation will ever bother them again. Wrong! It would be like signing up for a one month gym program and at the end of 30 days, no more exercise! Eat three Big Macs for lunch! If I commit to changes for my health and understand that those changes are forever â€“ then I understand that the same goes for my spiritual health.
Who do you hang with? Are you a loner? That will not build your spiritual health. We need the encouragement, the wisdom, the God-given gifts of others. And the enemy is a hungry predator skulking around, looking for that single person that he can â€˜pick offâ€™ with his lies! Stick with the Army of God! The Intimidators! Be a part of that sharpgroup that studies, discusses, loves, encourages, and meets together to worship their LORD and grow in their relationship with Him. That is the cool group!
Friends Are Friends Forever written and sung by Michael W. SmithÂ