Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Company You Keep

How many times have you seen a believer connect with the wrong person and throw their life away? How many times have young Christian girls gotten into trouble because of the people they spent their time with? How long will it be before we recognize the value of 1 Corinthians 15:33? “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.

The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark about friendships. It is very clear concerning who should have a place in our life and who shouldn’t. Many Christians get into trouble when they don’t know what God said on this subject; others get into trouble when they ignore what they’ve been taught.

Whatever the reason is for choosing the wrong friends, God’s Word doesn’t hide the consequences: Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Your friends will make you or your friends will break you.

King Reheboam fell into this trap. When he took over the kingdom from his father Solomon, he had this choice to make. He had to choose from the proven advice of his father’s counselors or the opinions of his “friends.” He chose his friends – and it cost him more than half of his kingdom.

Godly people cannot afford to have ungodly friends.

God set some simple guidelines for friendships:

#1 – Stay away from people who gossip or talk too much
“A person who talks about others tells secrets. So avoid anyone who talks too much.” Proverbs 20:19

#2 – Stay away from people who are rebels or don’t respect authority
My child, fear the LORD and the king. Don’t associate with rebels.” Proverbs 24:21

#3 - Stay away from people who get angry easily
Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go
Proverbs 22:24   

#4 - Associate with people who have a history of making good decisions
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20

#5 - When you have a wise friend that you can trust, pay attention to their advice - even if it hurts
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

   Pay attention to wise advice from your friends. It may make you mad, it may hurt a little; but if it’s good advice, it will help you - if you listen! Real friends love you enough to tell you the truth. Be cautious of people who are only interested in making you feel good.

#6 - Godly friends will sharpen you, making you more effective for the Kingdom of God

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.   
Proverbs 27:17

    A real friend should be interested in God’s plan for your life. Their interest in
you goes beyond how much fun you have together. They truly want God to use you in His kingdom - so they want to help you become stronger in your faith.

#7 - Not every acquaintance in your life is going to be this type of friend

    But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

“Friend” is a powerful word. I think we use it too often in our lives. Just because we know and like someone, doesn’t make them our friend. Just because we hang out with them once in a while, doesn’t mean they should hold this kind of position in our life. A true friend is someone we share life with, someone who we trust to speak into our life, someone who is genuinely interested in God’s purpose for us. Think carefully, how many people does this apply to in your life?

Very few people have more than one or two true friends. Usually we call everyone we like “friends” - while calling the one or two “best friends.” Sadly, there are a lot of Christians who don’t have this kind of true friendship. Many more have the wrong type of person in that position, and it hurts them instead of helping them. If you have a genuine Christian as a true friend, thank God for them!

If you have that kind of friend, you have to remember that this kind of friendship is two-way. Remember what Proverbs 17:17 says to you, “A friend loves at all times.” Everything that a true friend does - building you up, speaking God’s Word into your life, staying with you no matter what - now becomes your responsibility too!

True friendship is an amazing, powerful thing. It can help both of you grow and become effective in God’s kingdom. But be careful! You will rise or fall because of the company you keep!

“If you want to know the character of a man, inspect his friends.” -Old Japanese Proverb

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