“The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.”
We are influenced by the people with whom we associate. Everyone knows this to be true. There’s even a term for it: Peer pressure. Our desire for “belonging” can be so strong that we are sometimes tempted to compromise our beliefs or suspend our better judgment in order to fit in with the group.
Even stronger than our desire to belong is our fear of not belonging. This is one of the main reasons we compromise. We do not want to be left out, so we go along with the group, even though deep down we may not even agree with what they are doing. Our fear of not belonging has the potential to override our convictions.
Consider the message of the Proverb quoted above. Gluttons are undisciplined, self-indulgent people who engage in unrestrained behavior and encourage others to do the same. Therefore, it is foolish to associate with such people and allow yourself to be influenced by them. To do so is to tarnish the reputation of the Lord who has redeemed us.
In multiple places the book of Proverbs emphasizes the importance of building the right relationships, avoiding association with foolish people, and walking with the wise.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13.20)
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15.22)
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27.17)
Everyone has a circle of influence. That is to say, everyone has people around them who shape and influence what they think and what they do. Your circle of influence is your “social network,” and it is a powerful force in your life.
People influence people. Whether we like to admit it or not, our friends affect our way of thinking, our decisions, and our behavior patterns. We are shaped by our social network. Everyone is their own person, of course, but research shows that we are more affected by our social network than we think.
The Lord admonishes you to walk with the wise. Be intentional about your social network. Associate with people who encourage you and hold you accountable to getting on the right path and staying on the right path.