How do we discern between what is right or wrong today? Are we convicted in our spirits by God’s word and by the guiding prompts of the Holy Spirit, or do we look to see what others are doing and gauge our behaviors on some sort of lopsided comparison?

Proverbs 13:18-21 offers a bit of help to this very real conundrum:

“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace. If you accept correction, you will be honored. It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them. Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward righteousness.”

God wants to guide us because of his great love for us. He nudges and woos us toward his will for our lives.

In every criticism, whether constructive or destructive, there is some truth. We can choose to receive positive assessments and to attempt to find truth in the negative. We must humbly receive correction from the Lord so that we might be honored at the appropriate time.

We have a choice to surround ourselves with wise people or with fools. When we engage with the wise, we improve our standing in the world. Conversely, hanging around with fools, who may provide a little comic relief, often leads to disappointment, trouble and even destruction.

Neither God’s word nor the Holy Spirit will ever lead us toward sin, but will always direct us toward righteousness. The choice between righteousness and trouble seems to be a no brainer at a cursory glance. However, living a life of righteous choices requires great wisdom and sacrifice, while getting into trouble requires no effort at all.

Walking with the wise brings great benefit. Give it a try and watch the rewards begin to materialize