February 11: Proverbs 12:26

The righteous should choose his friends carefully,

For the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Friendship is a very interesting part of the human life. We really need companionship and fellowship with others, but there is so much that can go wrong for us in this. This verse talks about one of those ways things can go wrong. If you aren’t careful in your friendships, you will be led astray. The point is to be careful who you are friends with. Of course this isn’t talking about who you are simply acquaintances with, but rather friends. The Hebrew word here for friends is one that implies exactly what we would think. A form of companionship, one that could be summed up as “pasture-mates.” So we get the idea that our friends are the people that we are milling about with. 

Clearly this is true of when we are becoming friends with the people who are really the closest to us – that handful that you count as your true close friends. The thing that I’m wanting to bring out is a different vulnerability.

The internet allows us to pasture quite freely and without accountability with all sorts of people. We can stop in on all kinds of different subcultures, read up on what they are doing, learn a few things, leave a few comments, and press on. But the reality is that this is a kind of choosing friends. They may not be close to you, they may not be people you would even like in person, they may not be any of the things that you believe are important, but you are willingly pasturing with them. You are processing information with them. You are exchanging ideas, and exchanging values. And this is how it is possible to be led astray by someone that you never even knew. Chose your friends carefully.

When we spend time with people in real life, or virtually, we become like them. The internet has a unique trick, which is that we feel like it is abstract information rather than a personal exchange or relationship. Would you be comfortable at this person’s kitchen table looking at the outfits that they are telling you are cute and chic? Is this person a wise friend? Would it be wise for you to join this person’s little group of friends simply because you both are ticked off about the same small issue when she is actually New Age? Is this a wise friend? Would you really want to hear what this man thinks about what your hair should look like if you knew him in person? Is this a wise friend?

Some of my examples might seem stupid or uptight to you, but I am not talking about something that has never affected anyone. The reason so many women get mad about the make believe perfect housekeepers, or the food bloggers, or the people with perceived perfect marriages is that they have been out pasturing with them. They have been led astray somewhere and are angry about it. The reason so many women have broken fellowship with their local community of believers over things that you would not think were important is because they have been led astray. They have been pasturing with unwise friends. They have not asked themselves the very simple question of “Is this person wicked?”, followed by,”Should I be hanging out with them?”

Especially as we raise our children in this era of  virtual life, it is critically important that we notice these things. We need to be asking the big questions first, not looking to see if we have the same taste in some minor area of life. We absorb a lot more than we know we do.

Note that this verse says that the righteous should chose his friends carefully. Apparently the righteous can be led astray by casual friendships. The righteous probably thought that they could easily strain the bad out of the good. But our lives are not that unconnected. We are the hot water and our friends are the tea. We can’t just strain out the chunks and go away unaffected.

Sometimes the righteous might think these are not worldview issues but just  lifestyle issues: we share a common aesthetic; we agree about immunizations; we both like bad novels; we all hate cheese. Whatever. Be careful that you are not befriending someone who will lead you astray. And be careful that you know when you have begun pasturing with someone.


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11 thoughts on “February 11: Proverbs 12:26

  1. This is a great reminder for me! For several years I’ve spent a lot of time on a Christian forum, which has some good stuff, but more and more I’ve been noticing that many of the posters don’t seem to be operating under a Biblical worldview. I would see things and disagree (in my mind), but after a while I realized that some of it was affecting my thinking, even though I disagreed in theory. Just recently I’ve pretty well “gotten off” the forum, and in reading your and your mom’s posts, I’ve been seeing more of the reasons why many of those ideas were wrong. It’s also been helpful for me to focus more on the things that are helpful for my life and attitude, vs. reading about other people’s problems and dwelling on those.

  2. Thank you! This is so timely. I didn’t think so, but friends from Bible college who are doubting the inerrancy and authority of God’s Word have been getting too much of my attention. Though I disagree, what if spending so much time reading their folly has an effect on me for the worse? “Are they wicked?” Yes.

  3. I guess the question than would be what the qualifications of a “wicked” person would be. If sinners are wicked, uhm are we not all? Also, why did Jesus get to hang out with “the wicked”?

  4. Geke, Jesus was completely different. he was not easily persuaded by men. Yes, we are to take the gospel to all and Jesus loved the outcasts, but the point being made here is that be careful who your close friends are. those you hold near and dear to you, those who you can look up to and will guide you spiritually. We are all sinners, no one said we weren’t. However, there’s a big difference between being bff with someone and simply acquaintances as it was put.

    Excellent article and reminder!

  5. Wow. This really hits home for me. I follow a few blogs that I find fun to read, but they are written by people who are anything but Godly. Thanks for the gentle reminder that even blogs we read have an impact on us and are important.

  6. Very true and it also applies to other “friends” we let in our lives via other firms of media; books, music, television, videos, etc…

  7. Geke – To add to the thoughts above, as followers of Christ, we are not, by God’s grace, counted as wicked. Yes, we all sin to be sure. However, scripture clearly warns that, as 1 Cor. 15:33 says, “Do no be deceived: Evil company corrupts good character.” So, we cannot, just because we love Jesus and follow Him, think that we are above being influenced by others.

    With that said, in my reading I did not take the original post to mean that we should never associate with “the wicked,” either. Certainly, Christ followers are to be salt and light and prayerfully seek to minister to and share the gospel with everyone. However, those people who we allow into our lives to be the closest to us (aka, the “pasture’mates”) should not be haters of God and practice sin continually. It would be prideful to think that I am above their influence, just as Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction.”

    Anyway, this is what seemed to be at the heart of the origial post in the way I read it. I hope this can be helpful in some small way.

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