Proverbs 13:20 “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
The old adage says, “A man is known by the company that he keeps!” Proverbs 13:20 seems to reinforce this truth; wise men seem to seek out the company of those that are wise and fools seek out the company of those of their same mental demeanor. Some have put it this way, “Birds of a feather flock together.” The choice of friends not only manifests ones character, but continual interaction with the same friends molds one’s character. While it may not be a pleasant thought, we generally take on the likeness of those that we have chosen to associate with. Associations have lead to the division of kingdoms, as in the case with Reoboam when he forsook the counsel of the old men to follow the ways of his young companions (see I Kings 12:6-19). Hideous acts were committed at the counsel of an unsound friend as when Amnon raped his half-sister which ultimately lead to his untimely death determined by the hand of his brother (see II Samuel 13:1-14). Spiritual wisdom is forsaken to follow the folly of false gods when one becomes unequally yoked in marital bonds with those that know not the True God, as in the case of Solomon (see I Kings 11:1-11).
Knowledgeable of friendship’s revelation and it reproduction, we would do well to chose wisely when it comes to companions! There are three thoughts that I would like to develop with respect to companions.
The Foolishness of Choosing an Evil Companion – Psalm 1
In Psalm 1, God’s Word points out the benefits of avoiding corrupt companionship; “walketh not . . . nor standeth . . . nor sitteth.” These corrupt companions are those that are basically evil in their love, life, and lips. Failure to avoid this type of companionship means forfeiture of a “blessed” man’s passion, “his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” The idea of “delight” is that which is desired because it has been assigned a value equal to that of great wealth, something that one takes great pleasure in thinking on. The scorner’s spirit and the sin of the ungodly undermine our love and confidence in the Word of God. There is the forfeiture of the “blessed” man’s positioning, “like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” This truth is seen in the life of Lot when he settled in Sodom; “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (II Peter 2:8). The word “vexed” means to torture and comes from a word meaning to go to the bottom. Lot was uprooted from the place of blessing to settle in the place of buffeting! There is the forfeiture of the “blessed” man’s productivity, “that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.” Lack of the nourishing and life-giving water of the river means the absence of fruit. There is the forfeiture of the “blessed” man’s prosperity, “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Weakened by the presence of the wicked, the believer finds it difficult to stand against the prevailing winds of adversity and falls victim to the smothering effects of sin.
The folly of Choosing an Equal Companion – Luke 6:39
In Luke 6:39, Jesus, by the use of a parable projects for us the second type of companionship; “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” When we come to Luke 6:39, we are confronted with an individual that doesn’t fall under the condemnation of being “unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). Rather than being yoked to an evil companion, he has chosen to be yoked to an equal companion. The blind man chose to be the companion of another blind man. While the man’s choice left him free from condemnation, it also left him free of contribution! Having chosen an equal companion, there is nothing that his companion can do to make a positive contribution to his wellbeing. Previous to his selection of a companion, the man’s ultimate destination was the ditch and following his selection, his destination was the ditch. With respect to these two men, neither has anything that will elevate or advance the other’s state of wellbeing. This was ultimately the demise of Rehoboam in I Kings12:6:19. Rehoboam had a choice between the companionship and counsel of the old men or “the young men that were grown up with him” (I Kings 12:10). Rehoboam chose his equals over the elders and it cost him the kingdom! If you want to go farther in your Christian experience, find someone that supersedes your experience, your education, and your enlightenment; make them your companion in the journey.
The Favor of Choosing an Enlightened Companion – Proverbs 19:20-21
“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Within the text, the ultimate goal is to “be wise in thy latter end.” This means to be wise in mind, word, and deed! In order to achieve that goal one must “Hear counsel, and receive instruction.” There must be the attention to instruction and a willingness to be reproved; this is the means where by one experiences progress. Yet, not all counsel and instruction are equal! In verse 21, there is the counsel of men and the counsel of the LORD. While there is the uncertainty attached to the counsel of men, the counsel of the LORD is guaranteed to rise and abide; thus making this the counsel to be sought after. This counsel can be found in the companionship of the saint of enlightenment. Timothy discovered this in the person of the Apostle Paul; “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). Some of Timothy’s growth can be attributed to the years he accompanied the Apostle Paul in the work of God. This counsel can be found in the Spirit of enlightenment; “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). The third person of the Trinity has come to be our companion, to walk along side of, to guide us, and to reveal the things of Christ. Welcome and embrace His companionship. This counsel can be found in the scriptures of enlightenment; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). Make the Word of God your companion from which you seek counsel and instruction.
Those that you chose as companions in the journey manifest who you are and make you who you are. Being knowledgeable of this great truth let us then chose wisely.