“It’s almost impossible to live the right life if you have the wrong friends.”
Those were words I heard recently from Craig Groeschel, a pastor in Oklahoma, who was discussing the importance of friendships. His words got me to thinking, and a few of those thoughts I want to share with you.
First, before we walk too far down the friendship path, I want to be honest—I don’t have many close friends. There are a lot of great individuals in my life that I consider friends, but very few who know me well.
It’s easy to get down when you look around and think, There’s no community around here! But recently I started thinking . . . perhaps the Lord hasn’t surrounded me with friends for a reason. I can know from His Word that He wants me to rely fully on Him and grow in a deeper and more satisfying relationship with Him. Let’s face it, as much as I love friends, they can distract us from our number one friendship: Jesus. The first and most important friendship lesson we can learn is that no friend is a good substitute for Him.
Psalm 25:14 makes a bold promise:
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
Now that we’ve got that settled, consider this: The friends who surround us are the individuals who shape us. Show me your friends, and I’ll show you where you’re headed in the future. That’s a great thought and a terrifying thought.
The friends who surround us are the individuals who shape us.
Surround yourself with friends who are wise, hard-working, love the Lord, and are pursuing him wholeheartedly, and I bet you’re right there with them. But if you’re surrounded by friends who are irresponsible and apathetic about the Lord, WATCH OUT.
When I was in my early teens, there were some friends I had who really didn’t love Jesus and it showed in their lives. When I look back at that time in my life, I can now see that I was slowly but surely becoming like them. It’s a known fact that you become like those you spend time with. So guard your friendships.
With all the above in mind, let’s dive into Scripture and see what the Bible has to say regarding friendships.
Bad friends will drag you down.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).
I know we were just talking about this, but it warrants a second mention. Hang out with bad company, and you’ll find yourself on the same path they’re on.
A good friend thinks about how you’re doing. Really.
All too often someone will ask me how I am, and my reply is the typical, “Great, how are you?” While I feel so blessed to have another day to live and am surrounded by a loving family, are we all really doing “great” all the time? Hebrews tells us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (10:24–25).
A true friend encourages and is concerned for your well-being, so tell them how you really are.
A real friend isn’t afraid to offend you for the right reason.
Proverbs 27:6 reminds us that “faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” A real friend should be more concerned about challenging you spiritually and making sure you’re right with the Lord and with loved ones than they are about making sure they don’t offend you (and doing all this in a God-honoring way; I’m not talking about going into jerk mode here).
If you want to be wise, choose wise friends.
You may think I’ve said this so many times that you’re going to hear it in your dreams. Good! That’s my goal. I want you to get this into your head. It’s incredibly important. Don’t take my word for it; here’s one of my favorite verses in Proverbs for you:
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (13:20).
As you analyze your friendships, pray that you would develop the qualities I’ve mentioned above so that you can be a good friend to those around you. Don’t automatically dump friends—your love for the Lord demonstrated to them might help them realize they’re missing something. However, spend more time with those who build you up and are heading in the same direction as you are than with those who are going in an opposite direction.
Our friends can make us or they can break us. So choose wisely.
And if you’re like me and sometimes feel like “I have no friends,” perhaps it’s the Lord giving you an opportunity to draw closer to Him. Be proactive in creating a community of like-minded friends around you! Our friends can make us or they can break us. So choose wisely.
In your search for quality friendships, what are a few characteristics you look for in a good friend?
In what ways can you be proactive in creating a community of like-minded friends around you? Share some ideas in the comments section, and you might give someone else an idea or two!