Going With the Flow

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

We would like to think of ourselves as independent thinkers. We chose what we want to do and where we want to go. But an odd thing happens along the way. While the decisions may be different from our parents, the decisions are not truly independent choices.

Think for a moment. How many things do you do simply because your friends are doing them? Consider your clothes for an instant. Do you really make your own clothing decisions or do you consider what your friends are wearing? What happens if someone dresses differently from you and your friends? Do they get taunted or is the difference accepted as normal?

Most people want to feel like they belong to a group. They will pick things as a group that makes them standout as a group, but within the group they are alike. It gives a person a sense of identity. It doesn’t happen with young people only. People of all ages form themselves into groups that are distinguished by their behaviors.

Being part of a group is not wrong in and of itself. However, it can lead to problems if you become lazy and let the group make all of your decisions. Too many people just go with the flow, not caring which way the flow is heading. Choices should be made on the basis of right and wrong. One person said, “Wrong is wrong even when everyone is doing it and right is right even when no one else is doing it.” It is unfortunate that the lazy thinkers – the ones with the herd mentality – will follow the herd to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

Since we have a natural tendency to follow the crowd, it is important for us to pick the group with whom we associate. It will be hard to feel like “we belong” if the group keeps choosing to do things we don’t like. There are only so many times you will say “no” before you start compromising your principles just to keep your friends. Do you want to improve yourself? Then pick friends who are better than you. They will encourage you and help you to be better. But if our friends do things that we know we ought not to do, then our friends will tear down our moral principles (I Corinthians 15:33).

For Further Study

Verses to Consider

  • Psalm 119:63
  • Proverbs 1:10-19
  • Proverbs 2:10-20
  • Proverbs 13:20
  • Proverbs 14:16
  • Proverbs 17:17
  • Proverbs 27:17
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • Daniel 1:3-20
  • Daniel 3:1-30
  • Daniel 6:1-28
  • I Corinthians 5:6
  • I Corinthians 15:33-34
  • Hebrews 10:23-25
  • II Peter 2:18-20

Questions to Ponder

  1. Can good moral values survive among friends who have no concern regarding moral choices?
  2. For what reason should a person have friends?
  3. What should you look for in your friends?
  4. Why is it easier to sin than to be righteous?
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