My husband, Joe, and I were grocery shopping the other night when we ran into a lady who used to be the greeter at a department store we shop at regularly. This woman, whom I will call Mabel, had taken time off from work to have some major surgery done. When we saw her that evening, she told us that she had lost her job because she waited too long to go back to work after her recuperation. Mabel was a Christian, but she admitted that she was struggling in her faith because of the people around her who were constantly telling her what they thought she should do. All of them seemed convinced that they had the right solution to her problems, and they bombarded her relentlessly with their counsel and advice. As she went into great detail about the people she surrounded herself with, Mabel revealed that one of her closest friends was trying to rob her and put her confidential information online. Another friend of hers had taken her to a church where the pastor and congregation were practicing witchcraft. And one of her siblings called her regularly with "words from the Lord" that she knew in her heart were lies of the devil. As she spoke, Mabel confessed that she was suffering from anxiety and depression, and that all she wanted was some peace. She wished that everyone would stop trying to run her life, and she said that perhaps it was better for her to be alone.
As I listened to Mabel lament about her problems, and her lack of peace, I realized what one of her biggest problems was. While she was waiting on God for a breakthrough in her job situation, she was unwisely subjecting herself to bossy, disobedient people who were giving her poor advice, and causing her to become fearful and doubtful. She had forgotten the Lord's admonition which says, "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." (Proverbs 12:26 NKJV) I encounter good Christian people on a regular basis who naively believe that the people they associate with are not going to lead them astray. They know that the Bible clearly warns us about the quality of our relationships, but they seem to have the notion that theirs will be the exception to the rule. And it profoundly affects their lives in countless ways. Scripture warns: "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (Proverbs 4:23 NLT) We are the only ones who can guard our hearts. Others can't do it for us. And God won't do it for us.
The apostle Paul wrote: "God wants His children to live in peace." (1 Corinthians 7:15 NLT) One of the reasons why Jesus went to the Cross was so that He could secure peace for us in a dark and cold world. "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27 NLT) Christ's peace is our blood-bought inheritance, but we can relinquish that peace when we surround ourselves with negative people who don't have our best interests at heart, and who continually spout words of doubt and unbelief.
The Bible reveals that God has excellent and extraordinary plans for the lives of all of His children. "For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]." (Ephesians 2:10 AMP) But there are opposing forces operating in this world that are committed to preventing us from "living the good life" which the Lord has in store for us. The apostle Peter makes it clear who those forces are when he writes: "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour." (1 Peter 5:8 AMP) One of the ways that Satan is able to exercise a certain amount of influence over our lives is to do his best to surround us with people who would get us out of God's will. If we are not careful, we can unwittingly cooperate with the devil's evil plans for us, rather than God's good plans for us.
So what kind of companions are we to surround ourselves with if we are going to experience God's best? Scripture advises, "Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT) This sounds like a tall order, I know. But I have discovered that when we allow God to choose who we spend our time with, He delights in sending us high-quality companions who will love us with His kind of love, and who will pray for us, and believe God for us, even when the odds are stacked against us. The psalmist wisely declares, "I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts." (Psalm 119:63 NASB) If you don't have genuine God-fearing friends and loved ones to support you in hard times, then don't stop praying for them until the Lord sends them. Be prepared to endure seasons of loneliness, if necessary, to receive this precious gift. The best things in life are worth waiting for.
Don't allow listening to the wrong voices to cause you to miss out on God's good plans for you. Voices like these can confuse you, and cause you to lose your sense of direction, as well as your peace. Choose to be alone rather than to spend time with people who discourage you, or who try to get your focus off of God. The kind of companions that God provides will always point you to Him, His ways, His wisdom, and His Word. And never forget the Savior's promise: "And be sure of this - that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20 TLB)
Prayer: Lord, Your Word says, "become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." (Proverbs 13:20 MSG) Please teach me how to avoid associating with "fools," and how to seek out wise, God-fearing people. I long to have the kind of relationships that will help me to live the "good life" You've called me to. Enable me to do whatever it is I need to do to receive relationships like these from You. Send me people who will love me with Your kind of love, and teach me to love them the same way. Grant me friends and loved ones who will encourage my devotion to You, and who will inspire me to fulfill my God-given purpose and potential. Thank You that as I obey You in these areas, I won't have to miss out on any of the best and brightest plans You have for me!
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