Do you have friends that inspire you to live well? Do they model characteristics that are worth emulating? Do you have friends who help you grow in Christ-likeness? Which ones?
I think back to my high school graduating class. It was full of students of potential who aspired to be notable citizens and leaders of a brave new world. Many of them went on to college and careers in the marketplace. Some got addicted to drugs, developed bad attitudes, and struggled. If you surveyed that class, you would have found a range of under and over-achievers, slackers, doers, optimists, realists, and pessimists. Many fulfilled their dreams of making a difference, while others had dreams snuffed out by disappointment, lost jobs, broken marriages, cancer, poor choices, lack of discipline, or wasted talent. No one ever talked to me about the teachings of Jesus as a basis for a worldview. Or challenged me to live a life of impeccable character.
I read a survey of graduating seniors in a high school last spring that revealed this composite:
- 69% say they drink alcohol regularly
- 26% have tried marijuana
- 70% say they have cheated on an assignment or test
- 60% have had pre-marital (and unprotected) sex
These results do tell us something about the profile of these young adults. Almost two thirds are into drinking. Seven out of ten say they have cheated. More than half are no longer virgins. Many of these seniors are in college right now, or learning a trade, or possibly drifting aimlessly.
Put away the survey for a moment and consider your class profile. Not necessarily your high school graduating class, or a current academic class you are taking. How about the people you spend time with consistently – the class of people who influence you? Your friends. Can you picture them? Can you name them? I hope so.
Read Numbers 16:1-35.
Consider the people who were trying to influence Moses in today’s reading in Numbers 16. They were religious and community leaders, parents, young and old alike. Moses could have caved in and listened to their opinion, their view, their wisdom. Instead, he decided to follow God’s direction and was spared the horrible divine punishment this misguided gang received.
How cautious are you in terms of who you listen to? How selective are you in your friendships? Are you determined to seek and find God’s wisdom in the circumstances you face? Will you show the courage Moses did to step away from the crowd (and some of his friends and their advice), even when it may bring you persecution, ridicule, rejection, or even separation?
It seems that some of us walk a dangerous path at times of not having enough friendships with strong Christ-followers. If your inner circle of friends is only populated with people of less than stellar convictions, who will back you up in a tough spot when those convictions are tested? Walk wisely. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” If you are hanging with a group who tends to pull you down, it may be time to find another class of friends. When friends pull you from Jesus and His ways, pull away from them. Find and associate with folks who will help you live your life well.
Love is a verb,