Episode 1. Bad Company
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Every parent’s worst nightmare is to see their kids keeping bad company. Chances are that the bad company will have bad consequences. So – what company do we keep? Join Berni Dymet – …
Every parent’s worst nightmare is to see their kids keeping bad company. Because chances are that the bad company will have bad consequences. So – what company do we keep?
It’s great to be with you again at the beginning of another week. Do you remember when we were growing up? You know, when you were in your teenage years your parents would tell you this or tell you that and we’d just roll our eyes into the back of our heads wouldn’t we? What do they know?
When we were teenagers the very best counselling advice of our parents, well we’d ignore most of it. It was like water off a ducks back. Now we can both look back on those years and recognise our own immaturity. That’s what it was, part of our growing up was going through that ‘know it all’ phase. Truth be known we didn’t know it all and we still don’t know it all.
I remember my mother saying things to me like, ‘Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd.’ ‘Be careful of the company you keep.’ Yeah, right! What would she know? Typical teenage attitude. Hopefully I’ve done a bit of growing up since then.
So what about today, here and now? When we get the counsel of someone else, someone that’s older or more mature or someone who just sees things that we don’t. How do we react? Do we still roll our eyes into the back of our heads or do we listen to and benefit from that advice?
You know maturity is an interesting thing as we grow. We grow in our own ability to discern what is good advice. With some advice, when you listen to it from people and you think it might be hard advice, it might be tough advice but its good advice and we accept that.
And other advice, people may be give advice in their own interests or whatever. We look at that advice and think, ‘No, no, no, that’s not good advice. I’m going to reject that advice.’ And truly it’s a balance between the two.
If we accept all the advice we ever get, well we’re going to be all over the place. We’ll believe the last person that we talked to, we’ll be flip flopping, we just won’t have any security in our lives. On the other hand, if we accept no advice, well we’ll never learn, we’ll never grow. We’ll end up stunted emotionally and financially and spiritually because we just never take on anything new from anyone else.
The answer is in that balance of discernment. The courage to accept the good advice, even when it’s criticism. It’s easy to accept encouragement isn’t it? It’s harder to accept criticism and then to do something about it. Well that really takes courage. Wisdom is about rejecting the bad advice, having nothing to do with it but having the courage to accept the good advice.
Where do we get our advice from? This week and next week on the program we’re going to explore an old Yiddish proverb, that proverb that goes like this. It says, “Every generation has to learn for itself, the stove is hot”.
It’s a great proverb and it’s true you know, when we’re teenagers and we’re running around and we know it all and we make mistakes and it hurts and we learn through those experiences, don’t we? But we also learn by letting out the good advice that we get from other people.
That’s about learning to grow. It’s mixing advice and experience in real life and growing and maturing. And when you look at ten bits of advice that one of the wisest men that ever lived, King Solomon, gave to some young men in the Book of Proverbs.
We’ll put them under the microscope, we’ll tune into his advice from this older man to the younger men and see whether there’s any food in there for us. See if there’s anything there for our lives.
The first bit of advice he gives in that book is about keeping bad company. Now any parent knows that if our kids keep bad company that doesn’t all go well for their future. That bad company is a bad influence and it can be terribly, terribly destructive in our kids when their growing up.
And this is what Solomon says to the young men about keeping bad company.
“Don’t be tempted by bad company or listen when they say, ‘come on, let’s gang up and kill someone just for the fun of it. Well they’re all well and healthy now but we’ll finish them off once and for all. We’ll take their valuables and fill our homes with stolen goods. If you join our gang, you’ll get a share.”
“Don’t follow anyone like that or do what they do. They’re in a big hurry to commit some crime or even murder. They are like a bird that sees the bait but ignores the trap. They gang up to murder someone but they’re victims. The wealth you get from crime robs you of life.”
Pretty deep isn’t it. It’s pretty profound.
Okay, hopefully most of us aren’t murderers. Hopefully most of us aren’t going to go and mug someone and rob them. But we kind of do that sometimes in life through our behaviour and our attitudes and our dishonesty and aggressively looking after our own interests above other people’s interests.
And it turns out that keeping bad company is different from being around bad people. You go to work. You go to Church. You’re a member of a club. You interact with people and some of them are great. Some of them are fantastic. They’re wonderful to be with. And some of them are downright awful. That’s life.
When we deal with people sometimes we have to deal with those people and everything in between. But it’s not whether we’re around them so much. It’s a question of influence. Look at what Solomon says again.
“Don’t be tempted by bad company or listen when they say, ‘come on, let’s gang up on someone and kill them just for the fun of it.”
It’s a question of whether we take their advice, whether we ‘keep company’ with them. Whether we let them influence what we think and what we feel and ultimately, what we do.
Here’s the chain. They speak – we hear. Now when we hear we have a decision. We either accept or reject and if we accept it changes our behaviour and if it changes our behaviour it has consequences. That’s the important bit. When we hear do we accept or reject? Do we rely on them or not? Do we trust them or not? Do we put our faith in them to the extent that we let them change what we do or not?
It’s not that we’re around bad people. It’s not even that we hear them that’s the problem. It’s when we’re tempted by them. When we allow them to change what we do, it’s a question of influence.
Just in my own time in God’s word recently, I’ve been reading through the Book of Ezra, chapter 4, verse 4. There’s a situation where Israel’s people are back from a Babylonian captivity and they’re rebuilding the temple. It says this:
Then the people of the land discouraged Gods people and made them afraid to build.
You see, bad company can discourage us. It can lead us to complaining. It can be disruptive. It can make us suspicious. It can make us envious. It can make us dishonest. It can make us violent. Bad company is an entry point of bad influence from other people. And I have enough issues in my own life to deal with without taking on anyone else’s.
Now at the end of the day all of us want to live a good life. Sure we want to be comfortable. We want to be happy. But part of that is knowing that we’re living a good life. And that there’s goodness that we’re reaping the fruit from and God comes to us here, this stuff from Solomon is from the Bible and we go, ‘Oh, it was written 3,000 years ago. Oh, it’s from the Bible. Oh, it’s not for me.’
Come on, this is good advice, isn’t it? God is giving us fatherly advice born out of His love and His wisdom. Who do you hang round with? Come on, who are the people whom you allow to influence you? And are any of those ruining your life? Because if they are it’s like drinking in poison from them. It’s time to do something about it.
Bad company drags us down. Bad company has consequences. And when we sit here and go, ‘Well, that was a nice story from Solomon Berni’, we can ignore it and there will be consequences. Or we can take it on board and we can say, ‘wow, that is great advice. I never really thought of it that way’.
You know something, there are some changes I need to make about the people I hang out with. The choice is ours and the consequences, they’re ours too.