In his book Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders made this comment: The kind of person you are five years from now will be determined by the kinds of books you read, and the friends you entertain. We become what we absorb. We learn by observation, association, and influence. We often develop like thinking, mannerisms and habits of those with whom we closely associate. We must choose our friends wisely.
I was hurt by a friend once as a child and my mother told me that some people are fair weather friends. They are just friends when things go well. Then she mentioned this verse to me in Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. It’s a great strength to have a person who will stick with you when the going gets tough.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6). The best type of friend to have is the person who will tell you honestly what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. That type of friend is worth more than any amount of money to you. They could help save your life from hurt and ruin. The flatterer is only looking out for himself.
Friends can be closer than family. A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). There is always the risk of being rejected when you open yourself up to another person. But in the end, you’ll be better off by taking that risk. Good friends enrich life. Proverbs 27:17 reads: As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. A person who makes the most out of life will secure the help of others. A good friend will be real with you.
I’ve learned to choose my close friends carefully. Yes, Jesus was a friend to sinners. So sure, we should be friendly to the unbeliever and to the person who has different values with us. But we must be careful that we don’t compromise our convictions for the sake of friendship. If you are close friends with those who compromise repeatedly with the world, the flesh, and the devil, then your own sense of values will be affected and you may compromise too.
When I came to the Lord over 44 years ago, I had to make a hard decision. Some of my closest friends had been in my life since childhood. We shared many similar experiences and values. But when I solidly committed my life to Jesus, things changed.
Their values crossed mine. Their compromise was an affront to my walk with God. I no longer found their risqué jokes funny. Their personal lifestyle grieved me. When I would bear my heart about what Jesus had done in my life, and how He had changed Me, they became quiet and at other times sarcastic. I was faced with a difficult decision. Change my close relationship with these friends or lose my spiritual gains. I chose to relate to them, but not in a close way that required me to compromise my convictions. It was an emotional and difficult decision; but it was right. The history of my life now proves that.
One of the most important things in life is to choose friends wisely; friends who really care about your best interests. Be bold enough to make the necessary changes.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the Amplified Bible from 1 Corinthians 15:33:
Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.