Like many of you, our family celebrated the 4th of July with a group of great friends. We’re living in an area of the country where we have no family, but have been blessed by some wonderful, new friendships. Don’t get me wrong, I love our extended family, but there’s something very real and refreshing about friendships that family relationships can sometimes lack. We’ve all heard that old saying, “You can choose your friends but not your family…” Maybe that’s why some friendships feel so natural; we choose each other.
It seems pretty important to God that we have good friendships. The Bible is full of examples of this. Think about the amazing friendship of Jonathan and David. Jonathan warned David that his life was in danger at the hands of Jonathan’s own father, King Saul. This warning allowed David to take action and avoid harm, and ultimately this act of true friendship allowed David to take the throne, which was God’s plan.
The Bible describes true friendship as when one will be honest even when it hurts. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” This means that a true friend of yours will tell you what you need to hear, even if it hurts, instead of flattering you all of the time. I’ve definitely felt wounded by a friend, but it’s usually because I needed to be set straight about something I had done or planned on doing. Our friends care for us, and while we all want to make good decisions, sometimes we don’t. Perhaps that’s why intelligent people in powerful positions tend to surround themselves with trusted friends who can advise them.
Good friends will have a positive influence on you. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says that “two are better than one,” and goes on to tell how life is much better when you have a friend. I can’t even count the times over the years that I have sought to be a better person thanks to the example of trusted friends. Last week I wrote about being a servant with the heart of Jesus, and I’ve been so fortunate to know many friends who have shown me what servanthood really means. In many ways we tend to lean on each other, learn from each other, and make better choices because of each other’s examples.
In turn, bad friends will have a negative influence on you. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company will corrupt someone with good character.” Many people make the mistake of associating with the wrong crowd, and it is one of the warnings we parents try and give our children all through their developing years and even into adulthood.
One of the pieces of advice that my father gave me during my adolescent years, was “Be careful who you associate with!” There’s a Spanish proverb that he would use to teach this lesson, “Dime con quién andas, y te dire quién eres. / Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.” It obviously struck a chord with me, because I use this same proverb with my sons!
I can’t help but think how Jesus, who could have chosen to complete His earthly ministry all by himself, instead chose to surround himself with a group of friends. For three years, they lived together, ate together, celebrated together, and mourned together. I also really like the fact that when you look at these twelve men Jesus hand-picked to follow Him, they were just real guys. Jesus could have chosen men of influence, who came with tons of money and education. Instead he chose fishermen and a tax collector! Again, Jesus–even in a subtle way–gives us the perfect example of how important it is to choose friendships wisely.
Of course the ultimate example of friendship is that Jesus chose to sacrifice Himself for us. John 15:12-14 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
As I sit and enjoy my coffee this morning, I am prayerfully thankful that God has blessed me, over the years, with such good friendships. Some of these friends are local and some are distant…but I love them and they love me no matter where we are in the world. I’m also blessed in knowing that my sons have made friendships over the years that have (so-far) proven the tests of time and distance! It’s hard making new friends after a big move. But the same formula holds true, and we have seen some nice, new people come into their lives over the course of the last few months. Not only is it hard to be the “new kids”, It takes time to foster new friendships…but the rewards will eventually be great, I’m sure!
Do your kids see you surround yourself with righteous friendships? How do you monitor with whom they choose to hang out?