“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
– Proverbs 13:20
“When you hang out with good people, good things gonna happen. When you hang out with bad people, bad things gonna happen,” a quote from Robert Cook, a man I had gotten to know through a Bible study group I once attended. Robert, a man full of all sorts of folksy wisdom, knew all too well about the advantages of hanging out with good people versus the consequences of hanging out with bad people. He’d had plenty of experiences on both sides; for it was through hanging out with bad people that once led him to a life of drug addiction, homelessness, and crime that resulted in a prison sentence. But eventually he got involved in a crowd of good people who helped him turn his life around, leading him into recovery and re-entry into a stable and productive life where he spends much of his time volunteering with his church, and helping others who are bumping along rock bottom as he once did.
While going through my Dad’s belongings several years ago after he had passed away, we discovered a copy of a letter in his file cabinet that he had once written to a judge. It regarded a young man he had employed at one time who had later gotten into some trouble. The purpose of the letter was not to dispute the alleged crime; rather it was a plea for mercy from the judge, believing the young man had simply – as he expressed in the letter – “gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd.”
Most of the bad things and the mischief I’ve done in my own life can be attributed to the same thing, getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. That’s not to deflect the blame onto the bad crowd, but on myself for making bad choices. Likewise, it has been the good people I have chosen to hang out with who have influenced me to try to do good things.
“He who walks with the wise grows wise,” the Proverb says, “but a companion of fools suffers harm.” I like the way Robert Cook puts it, “When you hang out with good people, good things gonna happen. When you hang out with bad people, bad things gonna happen.” So, we must choose our companions wisely, mustn’t we?