He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed– Proverbs 13:20

There is an interesting insight within this proverb that gives hope, as well as warning. Notice the language of purposeful intimacy that is used in both the positive and contrasting negative admonitions.

He that walks with wise men is sure to be wise. It is not as though wisdom automatically rubs off on anyone who finds themselves in a family or church full of wise individuals. Almost every family, and certainly every church, has seen some individual—who even grew up in their midst— turn away from the wisdom of God’s Word to the foolish pursuits of the world.

It is not simply being around wise people that makes a person wise — it is walking with them. It is the conscious choice to learn from, agree with, and live by the wisdom that one sees. While this certainly includes surrounding oneself with wise counselors and friends, it is more than that. It is the purposeful decision to walk according to the friendly, wise counsel and example they give.

The contrasting, but corollary, lesson is this: a companion of fools will be destroyed. Everyone of us has ungodly classmates or coworkers, but this does not in itself insure our demise: it is making companions--intimate friends--of these individuals which will prove detrimental. It is fitting in with their foolishness.

There is warning in this proverb, because success or failure depends on the friendships we choose to form. However, there is hope because we can choose who our companions, our close confidants, will be.

Which decision are you currently pursuing? What friendships are you forming? Which way will your companions be pulling you?