If you take a brief moment to look over the course of your life, you could probably identify people who have influenced you. Influences can come from a tremendously deep well of possibilities:Maybe a teacher who inspired you to explore an interest that eventually became your career. A song that you and your spouse fell in love to, maybe even danced to at your wedding. Or a Scripture verse that quietly reminded you that God does love you, he sees you where you are right now and longs for you to hear his voice.
Influence is a two-way street. There is just as much negative influence on you as positive. How often after watching a movie with a great car chase do you drive home a little faster than normal?
Story after story can be heard of how a negative environment influenced children to make poor life choices. Yet every now and then, one will emerge unscathed from that same kind of environment. No doubt someone's environment takes tremendous toll on shaping who they are, their view of life and their view of God. Yet some can overcome their environment while others succumb to it. The difference is who and what will be the predominant influence.
Proverbs 22:24-25 says, "Don't befriend angry people ... or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul."
The simple but powerful reminder from this proverb is that we will live out what we choose to lock arms with. Circumstances may be thrust upon us, but choosing what influence us rests in our own hands.
The warning in this proverb is highlighting the importance of choosing your friends well. Who you surround yourself with on a regular basis will have a tremendous influence on what you do, where you go and ultimately who you become. Locking arms with angry people breeds anger. Locking arms with people of grace grows our understanding of grace. We each bear the role of being guardian to who and what influences us.
The difference between those who are dominated by their environments and those who overcome is the voices that they allow to be dominating influences in their lives. Diligently surround yourself with those who are seeking God and you will be encouraged to do the same.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.