What are the most important decisions you'll ever make in life?
If you believe the Bible, the answer to this question is an easy one. Choosing to develop a personal relationship with God is the most important thing you could and should do. It's the best choice you'll ever make.
But there's another choice — actually a lifelong chain of choices you'll make — that has a whole lot to do with where you end up in life, and often times where a person ends up eternally. It's your choice of friends. It's the decisions you make about the people you allow into your life, and the ones you cut out of your life. Who you hang out and hang around with will impact your life far more than you can imagine. If you welcome the wrong influences and reject the right ones, you'll pay a price.
Over the years I've watch many horror stories unfold all because folks made bad choices about their friends and associates. I've seen incredible potential squandered, pure spirits poisoned, people's lives ruined and even a few pay the price of a shortened life all because of a lack of good “people sense.”
The Bible warns us about this life hazard:
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. — Proverbs 13:20 (Msg)
Lest we think that bad choices about people is an error reserved for the young, we must remember that no one is immune at any time in life from being foolish when it comes to choosing friends. There are as many foolish 40, 50, 60, 70 year olds as there are 20 and 30 year olds. Many sad stories testify to the fact that age doesn't always guarantee wisdom.
So here's some good advice from Jesus about friend picking:
People and their lives are like trees. Good trees bear beautiful, tasty fruit, but bad trees bear ugly, bitter fruit. A good tree cannot bear ugly, bitter fruit; nor can a bad tree bear fruit that is beautiful and tasty. — Matthew 7:17, 18 (Voice)
Jesus reminded us that fruit never lies. If a tree has apples, it's an apple tree. If it produces oranges, it's an orange tree. It's simple. To know what kind of tree you're dealing with, look at the fruit.
The same is true for choosing friends. BE PICKY! Before you give someone a place of influence in your life, pick some of their fruit. Watch how they live. Listen to how they talk. Tune in to what they are communicating with their spirit and attitudes. And if you taste bad fruit, bitter fruit, bug-infested fruit — run! Look for another tree. And keep looking until you find the right fruit. When you find the right fruit, you've found the right tree!
Choose your friends carefully. It's one of the most important decisions you'll ever make in life!