By John A. Smith
Pressure From Peers
Peer pressure and influence can be good! Jesus described his disciples as the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:14-16). He told them to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to influence and affect the lives of others. Influencing and teaching are not just for older saints. There is something special about a young person who sets a godly example.
In 1 Timothy 4:13 Paul encourages all young people to be a good example. Each young person has the responsibility to set a godly example. One young lady refused to wear the silky, skimpy shorts given her by a coach. As a result of her protest, the school’s uniform was changed. Another young Christian befriended a lonely, confused classmate. As a result of the Christian’s influence, the other young man found answers for his life in Jesus Christ. Godly young people can encourage other young people as well as older saints.
We must take a balanced approach to our relationship with those of the world and recognize the danger that can be present. In 1 Corinthians 15:33 Paul bluntly and plainly tells us that “evil company corrupts good habits.” One of the reasons why evil companions often have a corrupting influence is seen in Deuteronomy 22:10. There the law prohibited the binding of a donkey and ox. Think about it for a minute – a big, strong, broad-shouldered ox and a diminutive donkey. That simply would not be fair or humane. The ox has an obvious advantage and superior influence over the actions of the donkey. The same is true among some people. If our worldly friends are stronger willed and more influential than we are, then we will be unequally yoked. I think you can see how such influence would corrupt good morals.
Often the pressure from others comes because of their own guilt. Peter speaks of those who will “think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:3-4). This happens because those engaged in sin do not want their evil practices exposed by the righteous example of another (see Jn. 3:19-21). If they can corrupt the righteous then there is one less righteous light exposing their corruption. Thus their conscience is momentarily soothed.
The selection of peers is one of a young Christian’s most challenging and important decisions. Peers will either encourage and support spirituality or promote and encourage worldliness. Consider for a moment the example of Solomon. In I Kings 3:16-28, Solomon took time out of his busy schedule as king to hear the grievance of two prostitutes. Moved by compassion and concern for the life of an innocent baby, Solomon used his wisdom to secure the baby’s place with its true mother. However, in 1 Kings 11:7 we find Solomon building an altar for the abominable Molech. This disgusting idol had a furnace for a belly and accepted the sacrifice of live babies. What happened? What caused Solomon to change? 1 Kings 11: 1,4 tells us what happened. Solomon married many foreign wives and when he was old “his wives turned his heart after other gods.” Now, if a man with the wisdom of Solomon can have his heart turned from the Lord by the influence of peers, I certainly face the same danger. Choosing friends is one of life’s most important decisions.
We cannot avoid the influence of the world, but we can check its influence. I have often heard it put this way: We can’t keep birds from flying over head, but we can keep them from nesting in our hair! Or, if you lie down with the dogs don’t be surprised if you wake up with fleas!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 12, p. 361
June 20, 1991