The world in which one person lives is too limited and restricted. When rubbing shoulders with another, we gain a panoramic view, which allows us to see the whole picture. ‘As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man’ (Proverbs 27:19). That’s so picturesque! People provide a clear reflection of what is in the heart. A mirror goes only skin deep. The counsel of a friend reflects what is down inside.
I’m talking about people who love you too much to let you play in dangerous traffic. They also love you too much to let you start believing in your own stuff. When they spot conceit rearing its head, they say so. But they also love you too much to let you be too hard on yourself. Like Jonathan with David, they are messengers of great encouragement.
‘He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm’ (Proverbs 13:20). That statement is not a verse written to teenagers in high school, though it certainly would apply. I clearly remember my high school years, don’t you? Many of us ran around with others who were tougher than we, so we could cover up our own feelings of inadequacy. My mother kept saying to me, ‘Charles, every time you run with the wrong crowd, you do wrong. When you are with the right crowd, you do right.’ Her counsel is still true. If I were to run with the wrong crowd, I would be tempted to do wrong.
And it doesn’t stop when we turn 20. It goes on into adult years as well. If you choose a wrong set of co-workers, you’ll practice wrong things in your business. If you choose a wrong set of friends, you’ll practice wrong things in your social life. Run with those who do drugs, and you’ll wind up doing the same.
But—the flip side—those who walk with the wise learn from them. You need someone who will say, ‘I’m not sure how healthy that is. I’m glad you asked me. Let’s talk about it.’ And that person will help point out the traps you could fall into if you keep tracking in that direction.
Other eyes, more perceptive and objective than ours, can see traps that we may fail to detect.
Excerpted from Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, Copyright 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.