We have been warned that ″bad company corrupts good character″ (1 Corinthians 15:33). So what are the kinds of ″bad company″ that we should avoid? And what are the types of good company should we keep instead? We saw some examples of bad company in Proverbs 18. Proverbs 19 gives more examples of people we should avoid, along with those whose company we should keep instead.
Whose company should we avoid?
- The fool (v. 1). Such a man despises godly, righteous speech, and indulges in twisted speech that seeks to deceive or cause trouble. He may also be like the man who rages against the Lord and blames Him for all his troubles (v. 3).
- The false witness (vv. 5, 9, 28), who denies people justice by lying in court. He will not escape punishment.
- The sluggard (v. 15). Lack of activity and lethargy causes such a man to fall in deep sleep instead of working hard to provide for himself. As a result, he is unable to feed himself.
- The mocker (v. 25), who has a closed mind and refuses correction. The simple may learn from watching the mocker being punished, while the discerning will learn from just a rebuke. Punishment is also in store for the mocker (v. 29).
Whose company should we keep?
- The wise (v. 8), who cherishes wisdom and understanding. Such a person listens to advice (vv. 20, 27) and learns from rebuke (v. 25).
- The kind (v. 17), who makes an eternal investment when he helps the poor.
- The patient (v. 11), who is neither hasty in his decisions (v. 2) nor hot-tempered in his responses (v. 19). Slow to anger, he is also willing to overlook an offence (v. 11).
- The blameless (v. 1), who knows it is better to live a life of integrity even if it means being poor, than to be wealthy and live outside of God’s will and ways.
The key conviction which drives these traits is the fear of the Lord (v. 23). It is the core of all wisdom and the greatest of all virtues. Every characteristic to be embraced flows from this one fear.
Reverence for God leads to life and brings about deep contentment, enabling us to remain unruffled by the changing circumstances of life-so that ″one rests content, untouched by trouble″ (v. 23). Many years after Proverbs was written, Jesus would come along and personally offer this same assurance of contentment that comes from following Him: ″Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid″ (John 14:27).
Who would be the ″bad company″ to avoid in your life? Who would be the ″good company″ to keep?
How would the qualities of both bad and good company apply to you? Are you good or bad company to others?