One of the things we try to help our youth understand is that they need to pick their friends carefully. We encourage them to select friends who will be a positive influence on them. From a Christian perspective we want them hanging around other believers, ones who take their faith seriously. On the other hand, we also encourage them to witness and to live their faith. That means they will come into contact with folks who do not believe the way they do, not just about faith, but about their overall values, too. And while that means they were interact with folks who believe differently than they do, we hope that they will choose as friends those youth who share similar values. After all, the company we keep can have a very strong influence on us.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. – 1 Kings 11:1-8, NASB
Solomon started out strong. He received wisdom and riches from God. But over time he accumulated wives like most of us collect weight. And Solomon wasn’t choosing based on the most important criteria of all: did they love and worship God Almighty? Instead, he ended choosing many foreign women who didn’t share his faith. Some were likely part of marriages for political reasons. Others were for beauty. But whatever the reason, what ended up happening with Solomon is that he had a lot of wives who did not believe as he did. And over time they were able to wear down his faithfulness to God. He began taking after their practices and began worshipping their gods. Needless to say, God was not pleased.
The same issue can happen in our lives with respect to the people we choose to hang around with. If we hang around with negative influences, if those folks are our friends and our closest buddies, then sooner or later we’re going to start acting like them. The more and more we’re exposed to behavior, the more and more we may be influenced to see that behavior as all right. So if we’re hanging around folks who don’t see any issues abusing alcohol, for instance, the more we can begin to think about how that’s okay, too. Now it may take a long time. After all, Scripture here indicates they got Solomon when he was old. But it may not, be, either. The temptation to fit in can be so great that we immediately agree to things we wouldn’t have agreed to otherwise. That’s peer pressure and while we usually think of it only as a teenage problem, it really affects all ages. There are other passages in Scripture which reinforce the issue of choosing our companions wisely, such as Psalm 1. It’s an important lesson God wants us to understand. So why do I cite Solomon?
Solomon was the wisest man of the Bible, other than Jesus Himself. If anyone should have had the common sense and the ability to resist being changed by those around them, it should have been Solomon. So if even Solomon can succumb to the habits and beliefs of those around him, so too can we. It’s something we should be ever conscious of and something we should be prepared to act on if we find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time with people who believe differently than we do, who do not share our values, and who participate in activities we do not agree with. It doesn’t mean we should write those people off, and we should not certainly hate them, as some would espouse. That goes against Scripture, too. We are to be a light and a guide to those around us, to help them see Christ and come to Him. But we do need to choose our friends carefully. They have the biggest influence on us. Otherwise, we might find ourselves like Solomon, starting out strong, but ending so poorly. This is the opposite of what God wants for us. He takes us when we are most unlike Him and He wants us to finish strong, becoming more Christlike with each passing day. If we want to do that, we must watch the company we keep.