25 Lessons in 25 Years – Lesson 5: Choose Your Allies Carefully

I remember an episode of the show “The Office” in which the character Dwight asked his co-worker and rival, Jim, if he wanted to “form an alliance.” Dwight’s request was driven by office politics, not friendship.

Typically, when we think of alliances we think of politics or shrewdness, but that is not the central idea behind my thoughts today. There is an interesting story in 2 Chronicles about King Jehoshaphat that speaks directly to the title of today’s lesson in the series “25 Lessons in 25 Years.”

Jehoshaphat was called “a good king” in 1 Kings 22:43. However, he made some choices that had a lasting negative effect on the people of God. In the opening verse of 2 Chronicles 1, it says “Now Jehoshaphat enjoyed great riches and high esteem, and he arranged for his son to marry the daughter of King Ahab of Israel.” At first glance this does not sound so bad, right? Well, here is the big problem. Ahab was the wicked king of Israel. Jehoshaphat knew this was unpleasing to God, but he let his guard down and was caught up in Ahab’s drive for power and riches. Jehoshaphat not only created an alliance that bound the two families together, but he made a military alliance with Ahab as well. This was a costly mistake. God was very displeased with this connection and the people of God paid the price for many years to come.

Choose WiselyThis is a mistake that you and I can easily make as well. Many times it starts out innocent enough. We mean well, but before we know it, we have fallen into a deep rut of negativity and poor attitude. It is interesting to me how negative people are attracted to each other. It starts out as a “common bond” of frustration. But it never moves out of that realm. The criticism and bad attitude become the center piece of the friendship or “alliance.”

Here are several consequences of negative alliances or relationships:

1. It is Blinding
It is like this…not many people wake up and think to themselves “I’m going to have a critical spirit today and couple that with a bad attitude.” No one approaches the day like that. However, I know people who have become just that, a critic with a bad attitude, largely because of the people they surround themselves with. Usually we are “neck deep” in these relationships before we even realize it. It is so easy to get caught in the flow of criticism and bad attitude while we are carrying on as the “watch dogs” of righteousness. The enemy wants us to feel justified in our attitudes and behaviors so we will continue down a destructive path. Think about Saul before he became the apostle Paul or even the modern day terrorist, they feel incredibly passionate that their thinking and actions are “right.” They are so convinced that they are blinded to the truth.

2. It is Crippling
Negative people love to spend their energy trying to destroy instead of build. Tearing something down is the easiest thing in the world to do. You just stand back, take aim and fire. But negative people rarely accomplish much. Their creativity is shallow because they focus on what other people “should be doing “ instead of focusing on what they could do.

3. It Limits Blessings
God is not going to honor a critical person with a bad attitude. I cannot do what I do without the blessing and empowerment of God and neither can you. If you and I are strongly connected to bad influences, make no mistake, we will eventually take on the same characteristics and behaviors of those we surround ourselves with. I would like to think I am better than that, but I am not. If I hang out with critical people, I will find myself falling into the same pattern. It is just how we are wired.

Does this mean I must hang around with only “perfect people”? Of course not.  Besides, perfect people do not exist. However, it does mean you might have to make a difficult decision.

Do I remain strongly connected to these critical people with bad attitudes or do I limit my time with them and strongly connect myself with people who will build into my life with love and authenticity? I have watched this at work in other people and I have experienced it personally. I have been guilty of falling into this trap and it will blind you, cripple you and limit God’s blessings in your life.

The solution to this dilemma…“Choose your allies carefully.”

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