Proverbs 13:20, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
I grew up in the suburbs of Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a city with about 300,000 people. My parents were from the Chicagoland area but chose to move to a smaller city for a better place to work and raise their family. They literally gave me every good thing a child could ever want. I always had new clothes; tasty home cooked meals and was raised in church. On top of all the essentials, my parents chose to live in a neighborhood where the clubhouse had three outdoor swimming pools, indoor racket ball courts and pool tables. The neighborhood had it’s own golf course, tennis courts and basketball courts. Sidewalks ran for miles safely behind our home so I could ride my bike to my friend’s house, to the basketball court, to the pools and then relax in the clubhouse without even crossing one street!
You’d think with all the things my godly parents provided for me, I would’ve been guaranteed to succeed. However, there was one thing that they couldn’t provide, my friends. Though they tried to keep me away from the troublemakers, I still found a way to become a companion of fools. By the time I was in 5th grade, I’d chosen the wrong friends and suffered greatly for the next seven years. By 18 years old I’d been kicked out of school 5x, I was a high school drop out, drug dealer, arrested 8x and had served 3 months in juvenile jail.
I remember reading today’s proverb when I first got saved at 18 years old and being deeply impacted by God’s wisdom. It was like a huge spotlight turned on inside my heart and I could see everything clearly. I look back now and wish I would’ve listened to Solomon. If only I had chosen my friends wisely. What would my life have been like if I walked with the wise in high school, instead of being a fool among fools? Matthew Henry wrote, “Those that disobey the commandments of God do so foolishly for themselves. Sin is folly, and sinners are the greatest fools.”
I suffered emotional hardship and spiritual pain. Some of the physical scars are with me today to remind me of those miserable times. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Today because of those life lessons, I’ve been able to share my testimony with many teenagers and help them make different choices. I also share my story with adults so they don’t let fools corrupt their marriage, children or career. The one good thing that came from my days of living among the fools is that I can testify to the truth of God’s word; the companion of fools will suffer harm.
I can also testify about the wisdom I’ve received over the years of walking with the wise. First, I started listening to my godly parents’ wisdom. Their shared experience of walking with the Lord for many years has been monumental in life. Second, I joined a good church and learned many profound truths from the preaching, Bible studies and Christian friendships. Third, I went to Bible College and was graced to meet some of the wisest people who have lived in our time. Their years of experience helped build my life, family and ministry. Lastly, I now pastor a church where fools are able to switch friends and begin walking with the wise.
It’s a great honor to be a new disciple’s first “wise friend” and see them become wise like us. God keeps the “wisdom cycle” going one wise person at a time. Reach one, to teach one, to reach one.
- Ask God to show you the kind of friend you are and the kind of friends you have.
- Remove any foolish friends you may have that are influencing your life. You may still stay friends with them for the sake of preaching to them, but don’t follow their ways.
- Be a wise person so that when people hang out with you, they will grow wise.