The school year is nearly ended in the UK, and after the summer holidays some of the children will change schools and meet a whole new group of friends. It can be an exciting time, but there can be challenges. Sometimes when a child starts in a new situation, their language and behaviour start to change. They’re influenced by the attitudes and outlook of their new peer group and not only their vocabulary changes. As the time they spend together increases, and especially if other influences are shut out, it becomes clear they’re being deeply changed and moulded by their new relationships. Maybe you’ve noticed this with one of your own children, or a child you know well. Of course, it can be a huge blessing if the new group are a positive influence for good, but it can also have a negative effect if these new friends lead the child into sinfulness, rebellion or deception.
Proverbs tells us to be careful who we associate with, because if we associate with those who don’t follow God’s ways, it can affect us severely. The enemy wants to trap us into beliefs and attitudes that reflect his ways, so spending time in bad company may trap us into their ungodly ways.
"Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).
I’ve noticed this same effect in the lives of adults who start following some new theory or strange idea. Before long, their words and phrases are peppered with the new attitudes and words they’ve assimilated. Gradually their beliefs change to reflect those of the new influence. What power a teacher has to transform the lives of his followers, for good or for evil!
But, this is indeed God’s plan and desire for those who follow Jesus and His ways. Jesus sent the disciples out to preach the good news and do the Kingdom work. He knew that having spent extended time with Him, obediently following His instructions and with His authority, they were sufficiently transformed by Him that the words they spoke would be heard as His words. In fact, they would reflect Him, His love, His truth and His compassion.
So, the question is, how transformed are we? How much time do we spend with Jesus our Teacher, reading or listening to His life-changing truths? How often do we allow His attitudes and words to flow into us and transform our hearts, so that His words flow out of us to others? It’s the desire of Jesus, and should be our desire, that we, who declare ourselves His disciples, spend sufficient time with Him, so we’re transformed, and those around us truly hear Jesus’ words coming out of our mouths.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be a better disciple and spend more time in Your presence, so Your ways and Your teaching transform my heart and mould me into Your likeness. I desire that Your gracious words increasingly come out of my mouth when I speak, so people encounter You as I go about my daily life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
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