Have you noticed any cliques in your class? By this point in the year, my students have usually formed some pretty strong friendships with one another, at least as deep as a relationship between two 8-year-olds can get. Some students are like magnets to one another- and opposites don’t usually attract. The girls who are into jewelry and fashion hang out and compare episodes of ‘That’s So Raven’; the boys who love Star Wars read science fiction books together and combat invading alien forces on the playground; the jocks wear football jerseys and can’t stop talking about the shot they made on the basketball court at recess.
Children gain a sense of who they like at a very young age, but it takes much longer for them to develop discernment. It’s important to teach our students to make good choices about who they hang out with. Proverbs 12:26 tells us, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." Misguided and unhealthy behaviors intensify when children find other ‘partners in crime’. 1 Corinthians 15:33 speaks loud and clear on this issue: “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Watching the way my students spend their free time always causes me to think about my own life because the company we choose as adults can corrupt our character, as well. For each of us, it’s a different issue. Some of us struggle to spend time alone with the Lord; others get caught up in the gossip and negativity in the staff lounge and with friends; some of us fill our minds with song lyrics and unwholesome images from TV. All of these issues result in our slowly blurring the lines between right and wrong, between what is God’s best for us and what’s not. Sometimes we are as oblivious as our students when it comes to perceiving the ways we are being influenced by those around us.
Who do we as Christians ultimately want to be more like? I think all of us want to be more like Jesus. But do we spend enough time with Him for Him to influence us? Do we talk with Him often enough for His patience and gentleness to rub off on us? Or do we spend more time reading magazines than His word?
VERSE TO REMEMBER: "Godly people are careful about the friends they choose. But the way of sinners leads them down the wrong path." (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
READ: Exodus 33:12-24 and 34:29-35. These verses tell of Moses when he saw the Shikinah glory of God: He asked for God to show Himself, and the effects of the time Moses spent with God were actually visible on Moses’ face! People could tell just by looking at Moses that he had been in the company of the Lord. (Later, when Moses neglected to spend time alone with God, he kept hidden under a veil so the people would not see the absence of the Lord’s presence on His face). Whether we realize it or not, our countenance (facial expression) can reveal a lot about how closely we’re walking with the Lord.
CHALLENGE: Who do you spend most of your free time with? Are those people edifying you or distracting you from serving the Lord? Ask the Lord to work in your life in a way that you need: to surround you with godly friends, to give your spouse a burning desire to follow Christ; or to show you another believer at work who can support you. God knows the power of positive influences in the lives of believers: As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
PRAY: Father, you know my weaknesses when it comes to making good choices about the people I surround myself with. I always make time to be around the people I want to spend time with, but so often You get pushed to the back burner. Lord, I want to be more like You; I want a heart after Your own heart; I want You to show me your glory. Help me to spend time with the One that I want to become more like, and to have the discipline to stay away from influences that work against Your purposes. Help me to be a good example for my students and to teach them the importance of making friendships and choosing activities that are edifying and good for them. Thank you for always being available for me as a friend and for being the Lord of my life. Amen.