The Bible is chalk full of warnings about powerful influence others can have on us, for better or worse. For example:
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” 1 Corinthians 15:33
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” 1 Corinthians 5:6. (For the non-bakers, this is referring to the leaven which is used to make bread rise. It only takes a little leaven to make the whole loaf of bread rise.
“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9
The Bible is clear: you will look like those you surround yourself with; you’ll become those you befriend.
Illustrating the truth even further, in her book on Introversion, entitled, Quiet, Susan Cain records the following experiment:
Between 1951 and 1956…a psychologist named Solomon Asch conducted a series of now-famous experiments on the dangers of group influence. Asch gathered student volunteers into groups and had them take a vision test. He showed them a picture of three lines of varying lengths and asked questions about how the lines compared with one another: which was longer, which one matched the length of a fourth line, and so on. His questions were so simple that 95 percent of students answered every question correctly.
But when Asch planted actors in the groups, and the actors confidently volunteered the same incorrect answer, the number of students who gave all correct answer plunged to 25 percent. That is, a staggering 75% of the participants went along with the group’s wrong answer to at least one question. (p. 90)
So powerful are the influences of those around us that they can press us to call a short line long or a long line short. If group influence is strong enough to make people wrong on such a simple, clear matter, how much easier would it be to steer us awry in others?
Who do you choose to surround yourself with? Are your friends fixing their eyes on Jesus or something else? Are they encouraging you to walk in holiness or luring you to run with the world? Do they push you closer to Christ or pull you away from Him? Does their influence make you more like Jesus or more like the world?
My friends, choose your friends carefully. They affect you more than you know.
For a great thought looking at why and how we should befriend those we may not want to become like, check this out.