One day, a man was walking along a road, when he saw a piece of clay in his path. He stooped down to pick it up, and as he did so, he smelled a sweet fragrance. "This is but a piece of clay," said the man in bewilderment. "How is it that this scent is so sweet and fresh?" The piece of clay replied, "I have dwelt with the rose."
This story came from Aesop's Fables
, but the moral is simple and biblical: You will become like those you keep company with-- for good, or for bad. Proverbs 13:20 says, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." And in 1 Corinthians 15:33, we are warned, "Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals.""
Psychologist Ruth W. Berenda conducted an experiment several years ago concerning peer pressure. Ten teenagers were taken into a room, where a teacher stood with three charts. Each chart had a line drawn on it, and the students were told to raise their hands when the teacher pointed to the chart with the longest line. The catch? Nine of the teenagers had been instructed beforehand to vote for the second
longest line, not the longest. The teacher pointed to the second longest line, and nine hands shot up into the air. The tenth teenager looked around, confused. Then he raised his hand tentatively.
The experiment was repeated, and the results were shocking. In approximately 75% of the cases, the tenth person would raise his hand with the rest. He would say that a short line was longer than a long line, just because everyone else was doing it.
The truth is undeniable: Our friends have tremendous influence on us. They can help to bring out the best character in us, or the worst. Therefore, it is of vital importance who we choose to surround ourselves with. We can either choose friendships that will spur us on towards Christ-likeness, or we can choose friendships that will draw us in the opposite direction.
Julie is your stereotypical teenage girl. If you see her, she will probably be chatting with one of her many "friends" on her cell phone. Several times a week, and sometimes every day, she manages to tour her local shopping mall or catch a movie with one of her "girlfriends." Julie is rarely at her own home, and if she is, she usually has company. She has younger siblings that she occasionally babysits, though only after being asked by her mom several times. Julie loves her siblings, but would never consider them her "friends."
Does Julie sound familiar yet? Perhaps she resembles some of your acquaintances. Maybe she even resembles you.
Although there is nothing wrong with shopping or going to the movies with a friend, in our entertainment-addicted culture we have lowered the expectations for friendships, and have made our friendships themselves entertainment-oriented. A friend of mine mentioned wistfully in conversation the other day, "Wouldn't it be nice, if our friends were not only people we hung out with, but people we served God with?" It would not only be nice, it would be beautiful! It is what friends were made
for! Friendships are not designed by God solely to add fun to our lives, but in order to encourage us to honor God.
Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." An "iron sharpening iron" relationship requires effort and dedication. Although a godly friend should love at all times (Proverbs 17:17), an aspect of that love is very challenging to apply: Occasionally, when a friend is not behaving in obedience to the Bible, a godly friend must offer a gentle rebuke. As unpopular and hard is it can be, this loving correction is a part of a good friendship. Proverbs 27:6 states it plainly: "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses."
In friendships that are based on entertainment, rebuke is not a part of the relationship. However, as believers in Christ, the rebuke and correction of our friends should be a result of love. The rebuke is given when needed, so that our friends may continue towards Christ. In Hebrews 3:13, Christians are told to keep each other from sin. "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
An old Nigerian adage is: "Hold a true friend in both of your hands." The reason one should hold a true friend with both hands is because true friends are hard to find. They should be valued, and held tightly so that they will not be lost. Sadly, we sometimes lose and overlook our dearest friends: the friends that are within our own family.
I cannot remember having friends who care more about me or understand me better than my family members. We all have faults and sometimes drastic differences in personality, but God has chosen
them to be my friends. Unlike others, my family is committed to helping me pursue a deeper relationship with Christ. When I am troubled in spirit, my parents give me wise counsel and pray diligently for me. Above all, my family is concerned about my best interest. They are not motivated by ulterior motives as other friends can be; they are motivated by love, which is the chief attribute to a quality friendship.
1 John 4:7-8 tells us that love is of God. We cannot truly love anyone in our lives if we are not first in an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. And as with everything else pertaining to life and godliness, Jesus is the ultimate example. Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father, and close friendships with the twelve apostles. (John 15:15) When we make it our priority to have a close relationship with the Lord, love will flow out of our lives, into the lives of our friends.For discussion.....
Posted by Lindsey and Hannah
- How many of your friendships would you define as "quality friendships?" (No names, please.)
- What are ways that we work together with friends to glorify God?
- What are ways to spur friends closer to Christ?
- Do you have a friend that has stuck by you for a long time? What is it that has kept your friendship going?