God respects the choices we make. We can either choose our own path, or his. The simple fact is that it is OUR choice - and he honors it. If we choose to hang out in places or with people that present opportunities for compromise in our lives, we may choose that course of action. If we choose to be in the place where God can bless us, he honors that choice. This does not mean that we never "hang out" anyplace but church, a convent, or a monastery! God intends for us to be light and salt in this world. He does expect us to make choices that are honoring to him WHILE we live in this world and hang around with others in this world.
God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God.
instead, the Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night. They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do. That isn’t true of those who are evil, because they are like straw blown by the wind. Sinners won’t have an excuse on the day of judgment, and they won’t have a place with the people of God. The Lord protects everyone who follows him, but the wicked follow a road that leads to ruin. (Psalm 1)
God gives us the tools to help us make the right choices. The first "tool" he gives us is his Word - the Bible. We are to "chew on" the Word we receive - not just do a cursory 'fly over'. In other words, we engage in a process of meditating on it. Meditation is not something "mystical", but is simply a process of reflecting on something over-and-over again, until we get something out of it. Something that is considered that frequently begins to have an affect on us - it begins to 'get into us'. The second "tool" outlined is our "proximity" to God - a tree planted well can bear fruit! If we are not staying close to God - enjoying times of his refreshing - we will be influenced by what we are closest to at that moment in time. God gives us the ability to bear new fruit. Fruit is a result of the process of growth. If there is no active growth, there is no fruit production. Choices affect action. Action affects where it is that we end up (our location). Location affects the next steps we take - after all, don't they always say it is location, location, location?
Simply put - if we make the right choice, we manifest actions that yield fruit in the right season. Think about a small calf in a large pasture. That calf has many fascinating things that may attract his attention along the way: a butterfly flits about out of some bush and draws his eye; the strands of grass moving in the wind a little farther off might lure him for a nibble; the rustling of the leaves in a stand of trees could even get him a little spooked. As the calf is distracted by these things, it wanders farther and farther from the safe source of nourishment, protection, and sense of safety (his MOM). Soon, the calf is growing hungry and kind of concerned because he doesn't actually see his mom any longer. It begins to bellow out in absolute misery - calling for the security and nurturing of mom. We are sometimes like that - wandering away, in seeming innocence, then realizing that our wandering has made us miserably hungry, lonely, and with a deep sense of needing the security we once knew! As long as we stay close enough to the source of our growth, we are content. When we wander, we "feel it".
God has given us "feelings" as one way to "measure" our location in life. When we are not quite "feeling right" about where it is that we are at, the choices we have made, the acquaintances we have been keeping, it is likely that our feelings are pointing out the fact that we have wandered too far from the source of our nourishment and nurturing - from that place of absolute safety and security - God's protective arms. Remember this: The tree "planted" is the one that bears fruit! It isn't the tree uprooted, or the tree torn down by the winds - it is the one 'planted' securely, firmly, and committed in that placement. Just sayin!