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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The right influence makes all the difference

There is much to the belief which holds to the idea of surrounding yourself with the right people bringing you success in life.  When we choose our "circle" well, we find ourselves being influenced to move in directions which increase our "value" in some way.  Choose the wrong "circle" and we might not realize quite the same increase in "value".  Now, lest you think I believe your acquaintances actually are where you find your unique value in life, this is not what I am saying.  In fact, there is but one place we find our unique value and that is when we look fully into the face of Jesus.  It is in what we see reflected back as we fully explore the depth of his gaze that we find our supreme and unique value. Yet, our relations here on earth can either build us up, or tear us down. Those which build us up have a way of adding "value" by our association; those which tear us down actually take away "value" by our association.  The latter erode away at our confidence, play upon our insecurities, and reinforce our fears. It is much better to surround ourselves with those who don't resist correction in their own lives - showing by example what it is like to embrace even the hard lessons so that steps can be reordered to ensure a right path is followed.  It is also important to surround ourselves with those who think about others as revealed in their willingness to lay down their own desires for the benefit of another. This is what I mean about our relations "lending value" to our lives - the right ones make all the difference in ways which encourage our growth rather than tearing us down or apart!

All who refuse correction will be poor and disgraced; all who accept correction will be praised. It’s a good feeling to get what you want, but only a stupid fool hates to turn from evil. Wise friends make you wise, but you hurt yourself by going around with fools. (Proverbs 13:18-20 CEV)

There are certainly times when we all refuse correction - leading us to places in life where we feel like grace is far from us.  We see walls closing in around us because of choices we have made and it almost frightens us to no end.  We feel "disgraced" - like we have lost a place of honor and now must deal with our shame over the matter.  Choices in relationship make all the difference with not only putting us in those compromising situations, but in helping us bounce back if we have compromised!  I know my best friend speaks life into my steps, not death.  She might not mince her words at times, but I need her to be this forthright with me because when she is, I can see where it is I am out of step with what God wants in my life.  Disgrace is actually a "place" in our emotional make-up where we feel like we have lost favor.  Good relationships help us to never lose sight of the fact we never lose favor in God's eyes - we can always find new grace in his presence.  Refusing correction assures us we will "lose" something - because honor is impacted when we are refusing grace.  We stand in a place of "honor" because of what grace has done in our lives.  Without the grace of God extended into and over our lives, we'd stand in a place of dishonor. With it, we are exalted beyond our wildest imaginings!

Having the wrong relationships can lead us into places of seeking what is natural for us to seek - everything which meets our fancies, builds up our selfish desires, and leads to us being the ones fulfilled in the moment.  Having the right relationships can keep us from being so self-centered!  We may "want" a lot of things in life, but the one thing we need to guard against standing in a place of "want" for is solid relationships.  We don't want to find ourselves walking this pathway alone, or worse yet, with the wrong traveling companions!  What God wants to us is for us to surround ourselves with others who know the grace of God in their own lives and lean into that grace each and every day.  Those who thumb their noses at God's grace are dangerous companions to place in your circle.  Two things we all need in this life:  God's grace and good companions who also understand his grace.  Two things which will leave us wanting in this life:  Being so full of our own self-worth we don't see the need for finding our value in Jesus and being so unwise in our choices as to think things, position, or power give us "worth" in life.  

Wise friends make us wise.  The first relationship we all need to "get right" is the one we have with Jesus.  When this is the primary focus in life, we soon find the other relationships we have begin to matter in ways we might not have seen before.  We will also recognize those which don't and will gradually see those drifting outside of our circle - not because they aren't good people, but because they draw us away from grace and toward foolishness.  Foolish people will drive us toward foolish action.  If we want to make better decisions in life, it often begins with changing those we have in our circle of influence.  Why?  We are influenced by their actions and they by ours.  We need the right influences if we are to even come remotely close to making less "foolish" decisions in life.  Just sayin!