Life’s Greatest Influences Day 4: The Influence of our Friends
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, ESV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ESV)
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20, ESV)
If only we could all be born with the wisdom of Proverbs 13:20 ingrained into our hearts and minds! The bottom line when it comes to our friend circle is this: good friends help us live life better, and bad friends often bring us down. It’s the age-old piece of advice we hear from our parents and grandparents, and yet we often toss it to the wind and learn its truth the hard way.
I’ve heard many analogies on friendship influences, and one that stuck in my mind was the thought of how easy it is for someone standing on a chair to be pulled down, in contrast to how much harder it is for the person on the chair to pull someone up to their level. Friends that have bad habits and live life without regard to scriptural principles are more likely to derail us from our own faith journey and pull us down with them.
Friends who encourage us to follow them into their world of sin are not wise choice of friends. No matter how old we are, peer pressure is still a factor when it comes to those we spend our time with. We often have a strong desire to fit in, and in order to do so, we find ourselves compromising. The more we compromise, the easier it is to go further the next time. These may be people we work with, live next door to, live with, or even, sadly, worship with. If you find yourself in a situation where you are called to compromise, consider the cost. Is this friend building you up, or are they bringing you down?
As much as we could linger on the dangers of bad influences in our friend circles, as believers, let’s instead focus on how strong, godly friends can be a source of help and encouragement to us. As I look at my own life, I recall the many friends who have paved the way for me to make choices that honored God. I have also had friends for whom I compromised at times, but often it was the godly friends who opened my eyes to see more clearly the impact of bad choices.
I’ve had friends who have walked some deep and painful valleys alongside me. They prayed for me, showed me love and compassion, and lent a listening ear. They’ve cried with me and told me things that are sometimes difficult to hear. They can be counted on at 3 p.m. or 2 a.m. They aren’t fair-weather friends; they are friends who stand by me no matter what. These friends are the ones who share the same faith, encouraging me to stay on solid ground and seeking my spiritual good.
And let us 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, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)
I think we can all agree that our friends’ influence on us is great. Whether for good or for bad, we give them access to our thoughts, feelings and our time. This is why it’s so important to evaluate those we spend our time with, making sure that we aren’t being led away from what God wants from us. Every believer has a spiritual purpose—God has work for us to do. We don’t want to be misled from our God-given purpose with the wrong friends. Instead, we want friends who will encourage us in fulfilling God’s purposes for us and who will be a real source of support and spiritual help—an invaluable gift!
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, ESV)