Summary: We need godly wisdom in order to avoid the snares of those whose path leads to destruction.
The Company We Keep…
The invitations go out every day. They’re in the mail, they’re on our front doorstep, they’re waiting for us at the street corner, they’re lying around the offices where we work, and they’re posted all over the neighborhoods where we live. They come by way of people who are persuasive, passionate, and thoroughly convincing. They’re invitations to walk in the ways of the wise. Invitations to cut corners in order to get ahead. Invitations to pray for those who are hurting, sit with those who are struggling, and walk with those whose life has been paralyzed with pain. They are invitations to strike back at those who have hurt you, sabotage those who stand in your way, and join forces with those who are moving to the front of the class regardless of how they are getting there. They are invitations to cut and run when God calls you to stay put, invitations to sit still when you are called upon to act, and invitations to look out for yourself even when it means someone else will be hurt. They are invitations to forget your wedding vows for a moment’s pleasure, invitations to lie when you need to confess, and invitations to continue to take more and more when you know it is time to give. The invitations are in the mail, but the writer of Proverbs urges us to carefully consider each and every invitation before we act.
The question arises, “How do I know which invitations to reject and which to accept? Some look so…well, so inviting. Some are written on perfumed paper and sealed with a kiss. Some promise huge dividends if I will only join in on the action. Some tell me that I can’t pass up this ‘once in a lifetime opportunity.’ Others are drab in their appearance, nothing outwardly to really catch my attention, and they seem so mundane, so boring, and so uncool. How can I know which invitations to accept and which to reject?” That is a great question.
Solomon gives us some good counsel today as he tells us about a godly father and mother inviting their son to listen to wisdom so that they can avoid the traps and snares of the world. It is an invitation to learn of wisdom’s ways, to walk in wisdom’s steps, and to live wisely in every decision to be made. The father warns his son about another invitation that is in the mail, or rather soon to be waiting on the doorstep the moment the son steps out of the comfort and security of his home and into the harsh and cruel world. It is the invitation of “sinners” – those who have no desire to walk with God.
The boy’s father and mother invite him to avoid the invitation offered by the sinners because they know that to accept the invitation will only lead to absolute destruction. The lesson offered by the father and mother is an invitation to learn about the consequences that stem from the company we keep.
I received a note this past week from a young friend of mine. He is only 15 years old and yet what he has written holds such wisdom for you and me. I’ve asked for permission to read you what he has written because it is so on target. Here it is.
Life is something that you do not take for granted. Life, most people think, is like a box of chocolates, but if you open your eyes and yourself to the world it will smack you in the face. The world is a very cruel and harmful place if you fall into the ways of the world. If you go off on your own, life is a lot more challenging and painful; because you will do what the world wants you to do. If you have friends they can help you choose what’s right and what’s wrong. If you go off on your own then you have no one to help you. So that is why it is good to have friends in your life, but they can sometimes lead you astray. That is why you must choose wisely who your friends are because most of the time the world will manipulate your friends into doing something they should not do. Friends who make bad choices can then try to influence you, but if you pick your friends wisely then they will not lead you astray in the ways of the world. For example, if your friends are invited to go to a party where there is beer, sex, and drugs involved they will not want to go because they know what is right and they will not easily get involved in the wrong thing, or they will not do something they know is wrong. Also, if you let the world get to your head or let kid’s harsh words or rude gestures get to your head you may start to believe that if you were not here in school, at home, in sports—wherever you are—you would be better off. Then you start to act out in inappropriate ways. Doing things like listening to music that constantly has you thinking that you were a mistake or wondering if you should actually be here. Acting out, not thinking about what you say, or how you act. It will get to the point of you constantly thinking about suicide. This just goes to show you how harsh this world and the people on this earth are, but that is what happens when you keep to yourself and you choose not to have the right friends. No one can live this life as a loner and be happy. Everyone needs friends or someone they can open up to and talk to about anything and everything. This is the way that the world cannot get to you, but everyone has to keep in mind that life has many struggles. (Nate Hays, 4/12/04)