Keeping an eye on the company we keep does not have to be a negative exercise. We don’t always need to be on the lookout for those people who we think are going to be detrimental to our faith. We also should be on the lookout for people that we want to be around and are an encouragement to us.
I think we can all picture a few people that are just wonderful to be around because they provide us with comfort when we need it and remain strong even in the face of long odds.
Two friends I would like to have around me are Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 13 and 14. When the people of Israel had finally made it to the Promised Land, they sent 12 scouts in to learn a little bit more about the land that they were called to inhabit. The initial report was less than positive.
They reported that there were many mighty people groups and even giants already in the land, and surely it is never a good idea to run into battle with such formidable opponents. This was of course all that the people of Israel needed to hear before they started complaining again that they never should have left Egypt. They traveled all this way only to run into a losing battle and get slaughtered by such powerful people.
In the face of this angry crowd, Joshua and Caleb stood up and said the following:
The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them (Numbers 14:7b-9, NIV).
Once they said this, the crowd got even more upset and talked about stoning them. Surely, they knew that this was going to happen. They must have known that unhappy people are not comforted by contradiction; the people of Israel were looking for their leaders to mourn as they were. When they heard that there was actually hope, they actually got even more outraged.
I bring up this account because we want friends who are going to tell us the truth. We want friends who are going to be encouraging and motivating. Even when we think all is lost, it is good to have people around who will help us put everything in perspective and realize that we don’t need to give up.
We all need people like this in our lives, and we ought to surround ourselves with a strong group of friends. People are naturally social; we were made to be around and interact with others. Community is part of human existence, so we have a choice to make.
We can surround ourselves with bad advisors like we saw on Wednesday with Rehoboam. We can also choose to find people who are going to build us up like Joshua and Caleb. This isn’t to say that we don’t love everybody no matter what type of influence they have on us, but when it comes to our inner circle of friends who we listen to for advice, we really ought to be discerning.