“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 12:26 One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
I thank God for the people He’s brought into my life some of whom I have been friends with for too long (lol); and as my kids are growing up I try to stress to them the importance of choosing good friends and also being a good friend.
In these times we live in, the true value of friendship has been diminished and cheapened. We may have 100’s or 1000’s of Facebook “friends” many of whom we’ve never shared a meal with or even met who may “like” or photos or status updates while never even really knowing us. People seem to live more for promoting themselves and these sites are driven by that “selfie” and “look-at-me” culture.
Certainly we will meet and know many different people in our lifetime and may have many acquaintances but we ought to look for qualities in true friends that match the biblical standards of friendship because a friend can help make or break our character.
They can aid us in our journey to become more like Christ or discourage us and lead us astray. Even some Facebook “friends” should be blocked if they are promoting morals that aren’t consistent with yours.
A true friend will not be perfect and may not always be in the same physical space but should always be there to help and speak truth out of a heart of love. It’s about character, who we really are and what we do and not just the things we say. We ought to strive for authenticity in our friendships and authentic friendships are God-grown and very beautiful in their time.
When you are walking with someone you call a friend and who you seek to be a friend to, ask yourself some key questions:
1. When needed, are you there for each other? Do you STICK with each other in the good times and the bad times?
2. Are you willing to take the time to listen to the other’s issues and problems and give godly advice OR do you give worldly counsel?
3. Are you genuinely interested in the other person OR are you more interested in talking about and promoting yourself?
4. Do you identify with the other’s losses and gains and rejoice when they are rejoicing and mourn when they are OR are you secretly rejoicing when they mourn and mourning when they are rejoicing? (Not cool!)
5. By extension, are you genuinely happy and joyful to see the other succeed and do well or does success bring envy and separation?
6. Do you care about what they care about and pray for each other and even together when you can?
7. Would you give of yourself, even if it means financial loss, to help the other?
8. Are you truly joined together by God or only connected by circumstance or your present environment?
9. Are you willing to forgive the other if offended and overlook their wrongdoings in the interest of maintaining your bond and unity?
In all things we must exercise wisdom as some people may stretch us beyond what God desires for that relationship. Also some of these things only become clear as our relationships are tested..maybe by time, changing circumstances, separation or other challenges. However the standards of brotherly love put forward in the bible need to be deliberately practiced in our friendships.
I have been challenged recently to take my God-given relationships to the next level. I know He has connected me to people for a reason and a purpose other than just sharing a good meal or similar interests. It is in who we are to each other, the tangible and intangible things of ourselves we share and how we sharpen each other and spur each other on to becoming all God has called us to be. The bible encourages us to love others as we love ourselves and the same things we want for ourselves we ought to desire for our friends..God’s peace, joy and completeness and His will being fulfilled in them.
I am excited as I think about all God has in store and I want to encourage you today with the help of God’s Spirit, to be an authentic friend, sister or brother to the people God has placed in your life.
Why not look up a friend you may have neglected or someone you may need to show yourself friendly to this weekend? Share a meal, share yourself, share Christ and enjoy!
By Carol-Angel Jackson