“Be careful who you allow to influence you; because they will.”

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This short piece of advice came to me from a mentor many years ago—he wasn’t even a mentor to me then.  His warning to us was very simple but really makes you think.

When we let our guard down, we will be influenced by those around us.  Thus, we must be careful who we allow to influence us.  Because people around us will influence us.

The counsel was not original to this mentor.  It actually was a different take on a passage from the Bible: Proverbs 22:24-25

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.  

Proverbs 22:24-25
New International Version

Most of us won’t debate the dangers of chronically angry people.  “A hot-tempered person” becomes like a proverbial “bull in a china closet.”  The difference is the “china closet” is oftentimes the people around the angry person. 

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No, most of us won’t debate that. 

This proverb, however, offers a different piece of counsel.  Here, we’re told to not even build friendships with them—don’t even be around them!

Seem harsh?

Many times, the greatest strength of the individual Proverbs becomes a potential weakness: brevity.  Their brevity makes them easy to remember.   They contain far more significance than their word count reveals.  Yet, since they are brief, they do not give a complete treatment of any subject.

If we’re wise, we’re supposed to know that.  In addition, the wisdom of Scripture calls us to ask the critical thinking questions of the text so we can learn to apply the truth of these Proverbs.

As we approach these verses, we quickly find why it’s better to not associate closely with “hot heads.”  Yes, there are dangers of being collateral damage of the person, but here, we’re told it’s much more dangerous.

Here, we’re told the danger is we might become like the chronically-angry person. 

It’s easy for us to go to the negative.  Perhaps you’re different, but it’s tiring to push back on a negative person.  An angry person, however, is not just negative.  They’re violent about it.

If we’re around these people enough, we start to become like them.

Have you seen that play out in your life?  Have you watched a chronically-angry person eventually infect their friends and close associates with the same?  Perhaps you’ve seen it another way.  Maybe you’ve seen that hot-tempered people tend to know other hot-tempered people.

So be careful who you allow to influence you; because they will.  Allow yourself to be influenced by those who inspire you to take one more step towards Jesus.  Those who inspire you to act more like Jesus.

And then be someone who influences others to take another step towards Jesus.  Be someone who inspires someone else to act more like Jesus.