PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall into pieces” (Proverbs 13:20 TM).
Nobody is an island to himself or herself. There is no sin in hanging out with others, that is to associate with them or spend time regularly with them, but the question is: who are you hanging out with? Many people are in trouble today because of the people they were or are hanging out with. If you hang out with the wrong persons, your hangout, i-e your favourite place of spending time together or socializing, may be wrong and your life may go wrong. You can’t be hanging out with someone and think that the person won’t influence you negatively or positively. Such examples are in the Bible and they’re also all around you. You ought to learn from these and not become a victim.
King Ahaziah’s example
In 2 Kings 9:14-29, King Ahaziah of Judah was killed while hanging out with King Joram of Israel, Ahab’s son. Jehu who was carrying out the assignment God had given him against the house of Ahab killed King Joram and when he saw King Ahaziah of Judah fleeing, he ordered him shot and he later died.
Jehu’s mandate didn’t include killing Ahaziah but he was killed because he was unfortunate to be hanging out with the wrong person whom he accompanied to meet Jehu, one of his captains. Joram didn’t know that Jehu who was driving his chariot furiously was coming to carry out God’s judgment on his family – Ahab’s house.
Ahaziah lost his life because he hung out with the wrong person. He was actually the son-in-law of the house of Ahab and walked in the way of the house of Ahab, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab, and had even gone earlier with Joram to war against Hazael king of Syria at Ramoth Gilead (2 Kings 8:27-28). Who are you hanging out with?
Jehoshaphat’s wrong example
King Ahaziah of Judah died probably because he didn’t learn from the life of Jehoshaphat who also hung out with the wrong person, Ahab, King Joram’s father. Ahaziah was not as fortunate as Jehoshaphat though Jehoshaphat appeared to have acted more foolishly than him because he agreed to wear to the battle his own robes while King Ahab, the one the enemy was targeting to kill, disguised himself to the battle. It’s like someone presenting himself as the person hired assassins are after while allowing their real target to disguise himself.
However, the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, to fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel. When the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they thought he was their target (Ahab) and turned aside to fight him. Seeing that his life was in danger, Jehoshaphat cried out. The Syrian captains of the chariots realized that he was not Ahab they had planned to kill and turned back from pursuing him (1 Kings 22:29-33) Jehoshaphat was fortunate that the king of Syria had commanded that nobody except Ahab should be killed otherwise he would have been killed. Of course, he was also fortunate that they didn’t shoot him before discovering that he was not really Ahab. A Syrian soldier later killed Ahab.
Jehoshaphat shouldn’t have hung out with Ahab who did evil in the eyes of the LORD promoting idolatry and doing more to provoke the LORD to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. (1 Kings 16:29-34).
Ahab didn’t do what was right in the sight of the LORD and during his reign, Prophet Elijah pronounced famine upon the land that lasted three years because of the evil that he led Judah into. The Bible speaks further about Ahab: “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up” (1 Kings 21:25 NKJV). It was this king that Jehoshaphat, a good king, hung out with and followed to the battle despite the prophecy of Micaiah which clearly contradicted that of Ahab’s four hundred prophets. After his return, God sent Prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani to rebuke him (2 Chronicles 19:1-3).
Jehoshaphat had enough reason not to go to that battle, especially after Prophet Micaiah’s warning, but he went apparently because by marriage he had allied himself with Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:1) – Jehoshaphat‘s son, Jehoram, had married Ahab’s daughter (2 Chronicles 21:5-6). It was the LORD that saved Jehoshaphat eventually in that battle.
But did Jehoshaphat learn his lesson? It didn’t appear so because he later made another wrong alliance, this time, with King Ahaziah of Israel, a wicked king. Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat that the LORD would destroy his work because of the alliance. The ships were wrecked, so they never set sail to Tarshish (2 Chronicles 20:35-37; 1 Kings 22:48).
You can avoid disaster in your life by not hanging out with the wrong persons or evildoers. God didn’t have a problem with Jehoshaphat personally but his problem with him was because of the person he associated with. Why should a good king choose a wicked king as his friend or partner? Psalm45:7 says, “You love what is right and hate what is wrong. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else” (NLT). That is God’s expectation of His children. They shouldn’t team up with unbelievers for goodness can’t partner with wickedness and light can’t live with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
After the ships were wrecked, even before they sailed, Jehoshaphat apparently got the message and backed off the business relationship with Ahaziah. He rejected Ahaziah’s request to let his servants sail with his men (1 Kings 22:48-49).
Why are you hanging out with the wrong people?
Maybe you’re even hanging out with some people because you’re depending on them to help you – you’re making man your source and not God. That’s a sure way to fail. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, on the salty flats where no one lives’” (Jeremiah 17:5-6 NLT).
When Asa, the father of Jehoshaphat, tried it, the result was unpleasant. After God had delivered Judah from their enemies including the Ethiopians who outnumbered them (2 Chronicles 14:8-13), Asa removed silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple to seek the help of King Benhadad of Syria or Aram against King Baasha of Israel. He was helped but God punished him for putting his trust in the arm of the flesh. “At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and horsemen? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them all over to you. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on, you will be at war” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9 NLT).
But was Asa repentant? No. His reaction showed how far away he had gone from God and His fear was not in his heart. Verse 10 says, “Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison. At that time, Asa also began to oppress some of his people” (NLT). Don’t put your trust in man. Don’t let human beings replace God in your life. Don’t hang out with the wrong people because you want to get their favour. Psalm 33:16-17 says, “The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory — for all its strength, it cannot save you” (NLT). “No one will succeed by strength alone” (1 Samuel 2:9 NLT)
Who are you hanging out with? David said, “I hate the sinners’ hang out and refuse to enter them” (Ps 26:5 TLB). What about you? Where is your hangout, and who do you hang out with? Dinah, the daughter of Leah, was raped because she went to hang out with the daughters of the land of Canaan (Genesis 34:1-2). She, probably, was looking for love outside the family since her father, Jacob, did not love her mother, Leah (Genesis 29:30-31). While it may not be healthy to live life alone, you must be sure that you don’t join with the wrong people. Dinah would not have been raped if she hadn’t gone to the daughters of the land of Canaan.
Some Tips on who you shouldn’t hang out with
1. Someone who has no living relationship with God, who doesn’t love God or fear Him, and who doesn’t love the things of God (Psalm 1). Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). He will infect you.
2. Someone who has no regard for the Word of God. His values will be contrary to that of the Bible. He or she will make you compromise your Christian faith and violate the Word of God. He’ll influence you to do what you normally won’t do. The psalmist says, “Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God!” (Psalm 119:115 NKJV)
3. Someone you always feel uncomfortable with. You’re never excited to spend time with him or her and feel uneasy after. Something must be wrong! Can two walk together except they agree? (Amos 3:3)
4. Someone who is an idler and a pleasure seeker. Such a person doesn’t know more than enjoyment! Anyone who lives in pleasure is dead while still alive (1 Timothy 5:6). Proverbs 23:20-21 warns, “Don’t hang out with those who get drunk on wine or those who eat too much meat, because drunks and gluttons will be impoverished, their stupor will clothe them in rags” (NIV). He or she will waste your time and your life. Paul warns not to even associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler, and not to even eat with such people (1 Corinthians 5:11). This is a disciplinary measure to make them repent.
5. Someone who makes you doubt yourself or feel insecure. He or she doesn’t believe in you, your dreams, and your goals and doesn’t encourage you to achieve them. Romans 12:10 says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (NLT).
6. Someone who is jealous, selfish, and abuses you physically, emotionally, or psychologically. He is jealous of you or not concerned about your welfare. James 3:16 says wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.
7. Someone who lacks integrity. If he is a liar, a gossip, a flatterer who never tells you the truth, and if he never matches his words with action. Proverbs 19:1 says, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool” (NKJV). Proverbs 20:19 warns, “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much” (NLT) Why is this warning necessary? “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 NKJV). The New Living Translation puts it thus: “Don’t talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!”
8. Someone who is rebellious and is hot-tempered. A rebellious fellow is dangerous to himself and everyone around him. Proverbs 24:21 counsels, “My child, fear the LORD and the king, and don’t associate with rebels” (NLT). Regarding the hot-tempered, Proverbs 22:24-25 warns, “Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hot heads. Bad temper is contagious – don’t get infected” (TM).
Conclusion: Be careful who you hang out with. The LORD says you should come out from among nonbelievers and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17a). That is not saying that you should isolate yourself from nonbelievers or avoid interacting with them. That’s impossible (1 Corinthians 5:10b). Rather, it means you should avoid such a relationship with them that could make their sinful practices contaminate you.
It has been said that it is better to be alone than be in the wrong company. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV). Bad company ruins good morals (1 Corinthians15:33). You’ll ultimately become like those you hang out with. Don’t hang out with the wrong people. If you’re hanging out with the wrong person already, put a stop to it today.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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