“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm”—Proverbs 13:20
Compromise may be helpful for some relationships, but it can hurt our spiritual journey. Bending God’s principles is risky.
For example, suppose a Christian man makes some new acquaintances, who don’t share his beliefs. Having grown up in the church, he has practically memorized Proverbs 13:20—“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm”—and recognizes the verse is meant to protect Christians from worldly influences. But he rationalizes that spending time here or there with these friends won’t hurt him. Eventually, however, he ends up spending more time with them than with believers and begins to question his own beliefs. Heeding that proverb might have helped him avoid drifting away from the heavenly Father.
To navigate such situations, we must look ahead for possible danger. Even choices that seem trivial can have far-reaching consequences. But the Lord equips us with a conscience and the Holy Spirit, who sounds an alarm if we veer into dangerous territory.
For us to hear these warnings, our heart must be tuned into God’s Spirit and Word. Relying on our own understanding can lead to trouble. But those who trust the Lord and apply His principles will find straight paths through potentially dangerous situations.
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.—Matthew 6:19-21
What do you want out of life? Perhaps an even more challenging question is, what is it that consumes your thoughts, time, energy, and money? As Christians, we live in two worlds—this earthly one and a heavenly one. However, since the earthly realm is all we can see, it’s easy to become sidetracked and begin living more for it than for the spiritual realm into which we’ve been transferred by Jesus Christ.
One day we will each appear before the judgment seat of Christ as He evaluates our works (2 Corinthians 5:10). But this doesn’t mean that our eternal security is at stake—Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, and we are citizens of heaven. We could, however, lose rewards depending on our handling of earthly treasure as opposed to that of heavenly treasure.
Instead of waiting, let’s begin to pay attention now to how we’re living. We must guard against investing everything for ourselves and nothing for the life to come. When we are blinded by our own desires and personal satisfaction, it is easy to become lukewarm about spiritual matters. Then God seems far away, we have no hunger to read the Bible daily, and prayer is reserved for those occasions when we need help.
The Scriptures repeatedly warn us to be attentive to spiritual matters—the Lord is to have first place in our life and be the center of our affections. Setting our hearts on the lesser things of this world not only robs us of heavenly treasure; it also keeps us from enjoying the spiritual blessings that are available right now to those who are in Christ.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9
Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit lives in you. Through Him, God enables you to do everything He asks, making the possibilities for service limitless.
Have you been sitting on the sidelines because you have let sin and shame discourage you? Perhaps you feel as though God can’t use your broken vessel.
Don’t let your feelings overshadow the truth! God is big enough to forgive you, restore you, and use you to restore others. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Once you have confessed and turned from your sins, you are cleansed—but God does not purify you and empower you with His Spirit merely to make you feel good. God’s purification process fulfills the Scriptures and equips His children for service. The question is not, “Do I have the power?” It is, “How will I use that power?”
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”— Isaiah 48:17 ESV
The verse above identifies two important things that the LORD our God does for us. If we grasp hold of them, we will learn something important about the LORD. If we grasp hold of them, our lives will go better. The LORD is the God who teaches us things that are important to know and the LORD is the God who leads us in the way that is important to follow.
First, the LORD our God teaches us things that are important to know. He teaches us to profit. The word “profit” in this context refers to that which is profitable to us; it refers to that which is a good investment for us. When we need to know what will work to our benefit and what will improve our lives for the better, it is the LORD God of heaven and earth that we should learn from.
Second, the LORD our God leads us in the way that is important to follow. He leads us in the way we should go. The “way we should go” in this context refers to the direction we should take in life; it refers to the moral standards that define how we should live our lives. When we need to find the proper pathway through life and the right thing to do, it is the LORD God of heaven and earth that we should follow.
The LORD our God knows what will be profitable for you and He knows the way you should go. If you are not too proud to listen to His teaching, and if you are not too stubborn to follow His lead, then your life will be better for it.