Have you ever sat down and thought about influence? More specifically the people you surround yourself with and the influence they might have on you?
I’m sure your Momma, your Granny, your Pops, somebody, has told you at some point not to hang around with the wrong crowd, right? I mean, from the time we’re children, we’ve heard how one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Or how following the wrong crowd can lead you straight down the wrong path.
I even remember the guidance counselor coming around in elementary school with her picture books and puppets trying to get the point across to us that some people are just plain bad.
So, I guess, because of this, I never really thought about it in depth.
Stay away from the meanies. Got it.
But, I’ve been reading in 2 Kings lately… and you know what happens when I read. I think about the things I’ve read for a couple of days. And then I share it with you, dear reader. It’s a habit. #sorrynotsorry
2 Kings, a tale of Good and Bad
If you’ve spent any amount of time in 2 Kings (or even 1 Kings, for that matter), you’re well aware the book is basically a run down of the good and bad kings of Israel and Judah (throw in Elijah and Elisha in there, too). Some followed after God with all their hearts. A few followed after God, but didn’t try to turn the whole Kingdom to God. And then there were a couple who just flat out refused to follow God or listen to His word and were just plain evil.
I’ve spent a couple weeks reading 2 Kings, mostly because it’s been a long, long while since I’ve read through the book. But, after reading the lines “and so and so did right in the eyes of the Lord” or “and so and so did evil in the eyes of the Lord,” I got to wondering.
How did some of these kings do right in the eyes of the Lord and others just flat out refused to do right?
How did some of these younger kings (you know, the ones that ruled before they were even teeny boppers) follow the Lord and the ones that were older and knew better just… well, didn’t?
And the more I thought about it, the more I answered my own questions.
It matters who you surround yourself with
Now, let me just say this first: this isn’t a historical look into the lives of the people recorded in 2 Kings. This is me, just making assumptions and thinking.
In 2 Kings 11 and 12, we find the story of Jehoash and how, as a child, he escaped death when the rest of his family was murdered. When Jehoash was just seven years old, he began to reign. Think back to when you were seven years old and what you were doing. I was playing with Barbies, making mud pies, and digging a whole in the garden because we thought we could dig to China. Think I could’ve ruled a kingdom? Nope. Big. Nope. But, that was the lot that fell on Jehoash and at seven, it’s safe to say he had some older, wiser advisers.
2 Kings 12:2 says, And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
Now, if you keep reading in 2 Kings 12, it does say that King Jehoash did not take away the high places where the people offered sacrifices to other gods. He probably should’ve done that. But, he did still honor and serve the Lord.
The point, though, is the priest, Jehoiada, instructed him in the ways of the Lord and how Jehoash should run the kingdom. Jehoash, being king, had the choice (probably later in life, I’m guessing) whether or not to keep Jehoash around or find another adviser.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he chose to keep the priest around.
Imagine, though, for a second that Jehoash found another adviser. Say, an adviser that followed after Baal and other pagan gods. We probably wouldn’t read the verse that said “and Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” If he had other advisers to influence him, it would likely read “and Jehoash did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
Influence is a two way street
In this case, Jehoiada, the priest, wasn’t a bad apple that spoiled the King. His presence and his advice likely guided Jehoash down the right path. I’d even go as far as to say that others were probably influenced by the priest to follow God, too.
It matters who we surround ourselves with, dear reader. The people we call our friends and take advice from can either make or break us when it comes to serving God. Especially if we don’t have a totally solid foundation of faith and we’re still in the early stages of growth in our Christian walk.
Listening to others who don’t know the Lord and taking their advice when it comes to major decisions in our life can lead us farther from God. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford to walk away from God.
Now, I don’t say that to mean “don’t ever be friends with people outside the Church.” Because, the funny thing about influence, it’s sometimes a two way street. If we’re never friendly to people that don’t know Christ, well, those same people will never see Christ in us. Jesus, Himself, was called a friend of sinners. But, He did not let their ways influence him.
Instead, He lovingly shared the Gospel with the world.
We, too, can share the Good News and be a friend of sinners. But, we don’t have to let the ways of the world influence us.
Be careful who you give your ear, too, friend. Shine bright.