Our vision becomes clearer as we continue to grow in our understanding of God and our relationship to him and others. We grow more capable of recognizing what is wise and what is foolish. We begin to see the wisdom of accompanying the wise and avoiding the foolish.
Proverbs are wonderful, pithy sayings that reveal some commonplace truth, or some wise and useful thought. This very ancient proverb from the 13th chapter of the Book of Proverbs is familiar to us. It has been stated in many different ways in our own times. “You are what you eat,” is an example. Another is, “You know them by the company they keep.”
Young people are often moved by the desire to “fit in,” to be a part of the crowd. They do this for two reasons; they have not yet come to know who they really are in relation to themselves, or to God, and because of a natural fear of being alone, or being “different.” We have all gone through this, probably beginning in middle school, and certainly through our high school years. Some were lucky enough to be a part of the in crowd, but many more were left out of it and, in a need for belonging, formed other “groups” of exclusivity. Being left out is painful, but some groups, by their very nature, are not good to be a part of at all. “Groupthink,” that is, the temptation to exclude, or deride all others who do not look like us, or who do not think like us, can affect all groups that are formed around human ideas. We can see this clearly in human politics.
It is not until we mature a bit that we begin to question the stated “values” of groups and our participation in them. Our maturing faith as Christians becomes supremely important at this time, for with it we can see more clearly what is good and what is not. Our vision becomes clearer as we continue to grow in our understanding of God and our relationship to him and others. We grow more capable of recognizing what is wise and what is foolish. We begin to see the wisdom of accompanying the wise and avoiding the foolish.
As we mature in our faith, we begin to see that those who believe in God and follow his ways are moved by things like compassion, hospitality, generosity, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. They are humble and courageous in the face of troubles. We see that what they do makes a real difference for the good in the world and we begin to desire to be in their presence, to walk with them, and to learn from them more regularly. We are more able to see, too, that the foolish are always caught up in selfish things, or in seeking immediate gratifications that do not last. We see that the things they do cause harm, and that wherever they go, they leave behind them only impoverishment, bitterness and destruction. In the maturity of our faith, then, we choose to walk with the wise, and to avoid the foolish. This is the difference between choosing salvation (wisdom) and choosing to cause and to suffer harm (foolishness).
Lord, help us to recognize those among us who are wise in the faith. Give us the courage to walk with them and to turn away from all the temptations to walk with the foolish. Help us to see the wisdom of seeking to honor your law by living it in our daily lives so that we can serve you more dearly in this life and be with you in the next. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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