Back in the ’90’s there was a television show called “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” It was about a high school teacher and basketball coach who always had a positive outlook on life. It featured a cast of people that were connected in some way – roommates, neighbors, co-workers, etc – and for the most part they always got along in the end.

Did you know that who you spend your time with matters? Who we spend our time with is probably one of the most important decisions that we can make in our lives, especially early on as we develop friendships in school. Those friendships shape us and help define who we are and who we become.

In today’s reading from Exodus 34, we see a warning about the other nations that are in the Promised Land, the ones who will be the Israelites’ neighbors in the not-too-distant future.

Be very careful never to make a treaty with the people who live in the land where you are going. If you do, you will follow their evil ways and be trapped (Exodus 34:12).

God was concerned that the Israelites would stray from the path that laid ahead of them. That they would not be secure enough in their identity to stand up for themselves and their beliefs – and He was right. It’s not long after they live in the land that they begin to worship the gods of their neighbors. They turn away from the Lord time and time again.

At some point in our lives, we have to be secure enough in who we are that we are not affected by those around us. They will always have some influence in our lives, but the extent of that influence is decided by our own choices.

So, with whom are you spending your time? Are these people a positive influence in your life of faith? Are you a positive influence in theirs? Be strong in who you are so that you will not be led astray by the pressures of those around you, and surround yourself with people who can make a positive impact on your life.