Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.— Psalms 1:1-3 (NLT)
Our Friends Matter
Have you ever thought about how much your friends matter to you?
The people we hang out with have a tendency to rub off on us. We become like those we spend time with.
Average of Five
In fact, many experts will tell you that there is a “rule” that each of us is the average of our 5 closest friends. What they mean is that generally speaking we become like the people we associate with the most.
If the 5 people you spend the most time with are of a certain general income level, it is very likely you will be too. If our friends are chronically spending more than they earn and have problems with debt, the we likely do as well.
Those with friends who are very health conscious will probably also be conscientious about their health habits. We usually have a similar depth of spirituality and walk with God as the people closest to us.
The thing is, the “average of five” taps into a scriptural concept. We see it here in Psalms 1. Paul also mentioned it as well.
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”— 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
How We Associate
So what can you do if everyone around you is negative and you know they are having a bad influence on you? Do you just stop associating with them all together?
But that might not be an option for everyone. Nor might it even be a good idea in all cases because there are some people we really can’t just up and write out of our lives. Nor should we.
What we can do is choose to associate with those who we see will be a good influence on us. For example there are many great Bible teachers who have their teaching materials available in audio format that we can listen to in our cars as we drive or load into our iPods while we exercise.
We can read books that will help change the way we think to get rid of the old, harmful thought patterns. When our thinking changes, it is amazing how other things in our lives start changing.
It should be obvious that the best person to spend time with is God himself.
One easy way to spend time with God is to read the Bible on a regular basis. I mean that is exactly what those verses in Psalms 1 are saying. In the Old Testament when they talked about the “Law” they were talking about scripture.
Just imagine how much it would move your “average of five” if one of those 5 people you were closest to was God himself!
To go back to Paul again, he said it this way.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.— Romans 12:2 (NLT)
At the end of the day we have a choice. We can choose to join in with those around us who are negative and fixated on everything that is wrong in the world around us. (And there’s a bunch that’s messed up, no doubt.)
Or we can choose to spend more of our time with God and godly people and reap the benefits.
Just know that this is a choice that has significant consequences.
How is your “average of five” working out?