“From the Hart” Devotional for March 14, 2024

by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble Proverbs 13:20

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

You have probably heard it said before that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This was drilled into many of us as teenagers when our parent’s feared we might get caught up with the “wrong crowd” It was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who said, “Tell me with whom you consort and I will tell you who you are; if I know how you spend your time, then I know what might become of you.” I might add on by saying: what you listen to, what you read, and what you watch might give me a clue as to who you are and who you are becoming. It is what we choose to expose ourselves to that influences the decisions (big and small) that make up this one life that we have.

I thought about who my FIVE are that I spend the most time with: my brother, my mom, my boyfriend, my friend Phyllis, and you! I realize that there are a lot of “you” that make up the church, but most of the people that I spend my time with (outside of my family) are a part of my church family. So, if I am the average of all y’all, then I think I’m doing pretty good. You all have raised the bar and I’m a better me because of you.

I spend the first two hours of my days focusing on my body, mind, and spirit. I try to nourish and nurture these areas of my life in order to go out into the world filled with as much grace as possible. Starting my day reading the Bible and my daily devotions gives me something to chew on throughout the day: the scripture about something Jesus said to his disciples, the question in my devotional about forgiveness, the book about how to talk to others. What I consume (people, literature, music, etc.) shapes my thoughts and my actions.

Many years ago, I had a good friend. Our kids were the same age, we had similar interests, and we knew many of the same people. It was a positive friendship and we brought out the best in each other…until we didn’t. We were both part of a community where an incident occurred that led to her leaving the group. I eventually left the group as well, but for different reasons. I talked to my friend nearly every day and I noticed that the conversation always went back to trash-talking people from the group we had left. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset with some of the people too, and I probably participated in the negative talk more than I should have. Eventually, I reached the point where I just wanted to let it go and move on; but she couldn’t, she wouldn’t. I would start the timer every time we talked to see how long it would take for her to bring up one particular person from the group. Sometimes seconds, sometimes minutes, but she would always bring them up. And when I got to the place where I was able to forgive them, she could not forgive me for forgiving them. I will always be grateful for the season we were “besties”, but I realized that we no longer brought out the best in each other and our friendship faded.

Questions to consider:

Who are the 5 people that you spend the most with?
How do they make you who you are?
Do you like who you are when you are with them?
How do you feel after you have wasted your time doing something that moves you further away from God rather than closer?
How will you prevent that from happening in the future?

Dear God, thank you for the freedom to choose who I want to have in my life and how I want to spend my time. Help me to use my freedom to choose wisely, always choosing that which will bring me closer to you.