“Who you are in 5 years will depend on the people you hang out with and the books you read.”
My friend Kathy shared this quote as she taught about “Influence” at Bible study this week. She told of a man she once knew who used this as a kind of “signature” statement—kind of like “hello!” or “good-bye” with a little challenge added in. I like it.
As the Bible says, the people with whom you keep company can really determine the course of your life:
He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
Negative influence is very powerful. Are you hanging out with Godly friends? Are you being a Godly friend? Now is the time to evaluate—not in 5 years.
A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26)
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character. (1Corinthians 15:33)
Good books—the Bible is the first and foremost of these—change the way you think. The way that you transform your thoughts as a Christ-follower is by feeding your brain lots and lots of truth. I call this “marinating” your mind.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
When we marinate our minds with God’s truths and not society’s lies, we can more easily discern what we are supposed to be doing in this world. We gain wisdom from God’s words so that we are able to find out how we can join Him in His work—His good, pleasing and perfect work.
Good books, written by godly authors, are also an excellent way for us to put some meat on the truths that God lays before us. These books, when read and evaluated in the light of Scripture, can help us formulate what we truly believe and why we believe it. The key phrase here is “evaluated in the light of Scripture”. We must use the Bible as our “ruler” when reading anything to make sure that what we ingest is truth. Human authors can err in the area of theology—God cannot.
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
Classic books can also expand and grow our minds. Just like the Bible, sometimes they are hard to understand at first because they were written in a different era. But, if you take time to get familiar with the nuances and inferences of the language and culture of the milieu, the stories are rich with lessons about human nature, love, and often, God.
Who are you today?
Who do you want to be?
Who will you be in 5 years?
It’s up to you.
And now, I will get off my soapbox, go snuggle in my polka-dotted chair, and with my wise husband by my side (in his own chair, not mine), I will read a book—a really good one—and begin to marinate.
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.