"The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." ~Pr. 12:26
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm." ~Pr. 13:21
"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the application." ~G. WashingtonWho do we let our children associate with? Our children must be surrounded with the wise.
I can already hear the "Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners" argument. I'm not saying that our children should not be reaching out to others for the purpose of influencing them toward Jesus. But, I am saying that we must consider whether our children are thermometers or thermostats. Do my children influence others to do what is right, or are they easily influenced by their peers? Until they are ready to set the atmosphere they are in, protect them by choosing for them who their friends and influences will be.
Did you ever try this?
Stand on a chair.
Have another person stand on the ground.
Try to pull the person on the ground up to your level on the chair.
It is nearly impossible and much easier to be pulled down to the lower level.
So, it is with peers. The idealist must be grounded and strong in order to influence the mediocre and foolish. But the foolish only have to give a little tug to pull the idealist down to their level.
Undoubtedly our children become (or remain) fools if they hang out with other fools, and Proverbs 13:20 says they will suffer harm or even be destroyed. Yikes! Is it really worth it to let our kids "do whatever they want" when the end result is destruction?
Jamie and I have had this discussion recently. I love the Proverbs (and really all of Scripture). It is so simple. And if we obey God's ways, then life is pretty black and white and not too hard to figure out.
The other night, a girl we know (please pray for this family) was determined to attend an event putting her in the position to become a companion of fools. She defied adamantly the counsel of her family. Her motive was obvious, though she lied about it. She was admonished and warned. Her guardians were greatly cautioned. We were concerned for her safety but for Jamie and I, the situation was out of our hands. In the middle of the night, we received a call that this girl was in a very serious rollover crash...and her "companion" was drunk...as was she. Thankfully, she is alive, albeit pretty beat up. Jamie went to rescue her (again, for this is not the first time)---she seemed thankful but prideful and unrepentant.
These two verses have flashed in my mind since.
"..A companion of fools suffers harm" (Pr. 13:20); and "A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy." (Pr. 29:1)
Also the Prodigal story (Lk. 15:11-32)... sometimes we have to allow our children to choose their destructive path until they are eating with pigs and eventually come to their senses. Granted, we must be pro-active in raising them in godliness and holiness from the moment God places them in our hands. As parents, we must purpose to reach their hearts. Not just in moral training...which is important...though focusing on that solely only causes legalism in my opinion.
It is like what Jesus said (Mt. 22:37-40): All the commandments (morals) are wrapped up in these two things: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Or Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." If we focus on love of God and others, and if we focus on pursuing the very time-consuming job of winning our children's hearts, then morality and obedience to God and to parents will naturally occur. Granted, nothing is perfect. But if our children want to please God and us out of love, we have quite a head start.