To Be Happy, Watch Your Associations
A PERSON’S companions can influence him either for good or for bad. Often people admit that, because of friends, they started using drugs and tobacco or became involved in an immoral way of life. By making a determined effort to break off unwholesome associations and, instead, seeking companionship with principled persons, others have succeeded in conquering harmful habits.
Truly, then, if you desire genuine happiness and security, you have to avoid associating with persons who have no love for what is right. This point is forcefully made in the Bible. In the book of Psalms, for example, we read: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, and in the way of sinners has not stood, and in the seat of ridiculers has not sat.”—Ps. 1:1.
Happiness simply cannot be obtained by those who ignore God’s ways. As a loving Father, the Most High has given only such laws as promote the welfare of his intelligent creatures. Hence, the happy person is the one who refuses to adopt the advice or “counsel” of the ungodly as a guide for living. Since he firmly rejects their thinking, he is certainly not going to be ‘standing in the way of sinners.’ This means that he is not going to be found where they are; he does not want their companionship. Therefore, he does not step down to the level of being in their circle, sitting with them and ridiculing godliness.
Of course, the happiness of the righteous man is not to be found just in a life of negatives. No, he finds real pleasure in upbuilding things, filling his mind and heart with what is wholesome. The first psalm continues: “His delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Ps. 1:2) The real pleasure of the righteous person results from his fulfilling a genuine desire to know the law of Jehovah and in applying it. (Compare James 1:25.) Not a day passes without his giving consideration to spiritual matters.
Like all other humans, righteous persons experience trials, but they are able to endure these successfully just as a sound tree withstands comparatively strong winds. The psalmist appropriately compared the godly man to a strong tree in a well-watered location, saying: “He will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.” (Ps. 1:3) A tree planted by an unfailing source of water will not dry up during a time of drought or in the summer heat, but it will bear fruit. Likewise, the strength of righteous persons comes from an unfailing source, namely, Jehovah God. With the help of God’s spirit, they are able to bear up under the pressure of trials and difficulties. In the end, they succeed in everything, because their main objective is to remain approved servants of the Almighty. The heat of opposition does not move them away from their resolve. They come off victorious as persons approved by Jehovah God.
How different it is with the wicked ones! They may appear to prosper for a time, but they have no abiding security. The psalmist continues: “The wicked are not like that, but are like the chaff that the wind drives away. That is why the wicked ones will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of righteous ones. For Jehovah is taking knowledge of the way of righteous ones, but the very way of wicked ones will perish.”—Ps. 1:4-6.
Accordingly, the wicked ones have no more security than does chaff during the winnowing process. The chaff is blown away while the heavier kernels of grain drop to the ground. Similarly, the righteous remain but the wicked are blown away like worthless chaff. When coming under judgment, the wicked will simply not stand as approved but will be condemned. They will have no place among the righteous. Reputed sinners will not succeed in any pretense of being in the assembly of righteous ones.
The reason that the wicked will not stand as approved before Jehovah God and will not be numbered with upright persons is that the Almighty knows the “way of righteous ones.” Yes, he gives recognition to their course of life as being approved and rewards them accordingly. The way of righteous persons, therefore, remains for all time but that of the wicked ones perishes. Since the wicked perish, their way or course of life ends with them.
Truly, the first psalm provides warm encouragement for us to find delight in the law of God while we avoid intimacy with those who have no real love for the Most High. This course will result in our being happy, not for just a few years, but everlastingly as loyal servants of Jehovah God.