You know, all friendships are not alike. This is what I mean, that there are different levels of friendships, whether biblically speaking or not. In our world today we, acquaintances, casual friendship, close friendship and intimate friendship. The latter two are those who have a significant bearing our relationship with them. That is why we have to be careful who we choose for friends because as we have seen, we become like those we associate with.
As we continue our series on Friendship, let us start this morning by looking at the definition that the Lord Jesus Christ gave us about whoa true friend is, so turn with me to John 15:13-15:
13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
This verse is really the foundation for our series. Jesus should be our guide when it comes to choosing and cherishing our friendships. After all, He is the Chief of friends. Now, let us look also at this other verse, Proverbs 12:26; it says: “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
From the word “Go,” we ought to have a friend and it has to be a vertical friendship, which is with God but this verse instructs us that we also need horizontal friendships and that we should be careful who we pick for friends. We need deep meaningful friendships with other people; Proverbs 18:24 adds that, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly”
But the Book of Proverbs, for example, Proverbs 1:10-19 and 4:14-19 contain warnings about friends and how to choose them. We are not to associate with those who entice us to do wrong, even if their “friendship” is appealing. Those whose “feet rush to sin” should be avoided because the path they prefer to travel is too broad for a Christian. The Christian’s choice should be to follow the “path of the righteous,” the narrow path. That is the only path that leads to friendship with God, which should be the ultimate goal of a Christian.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
It is plain why, because you become more like those you hang out, associate with so, Proverbs 12:26 says the smart ones choose their friends wisely and carefully. In fact Proverbs 13:20 says 20He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Like they say, you are what you eat; if you eat garbage, don’t expect to be healthy.
Another warning on how we choose our friendship is Proverbs 22:24-25. This verse is also about bad company corrupting good morals, Proverbs 22:24-25: 24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. With this brief overview, let us look at some scripture verses on the kind of people, who to avoid when choosing our friendships.
WHO TO AVOID
- Avoid Scoffers, Fools – Proverbs 14 6A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth. 7Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
- Avoid Gossips – Proverbs 16:2 “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
- Avoid Angry, Quick-tempered People – Proverbs 22:24–25 24“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person; do not associate with one easily angered 25or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”
- Avoid Lovers Of Evil – Ephesians 5:11, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
- Avoid Worldly People – James 4:4, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
- Avoid The Riotous, The Hedonistic (Glutton, Vile) – Proverbs 28:7, “he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father”
- Avoid The Double-Crosser – Matthew 26:48 “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.'”
- Avoid The Competitor – Ecclesiastes 4:4 “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
We will see some more of such people to avoid when we get to Changing and Chopping Our Friendships so now, let us look at who do we accept? Here are a few:
WHO TO ACCEPT
- Accept One Who Loves Jesus – Psalm 119:63 “I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.”
- Accept One Who Has Your Best Interests At Heart – Proverbs 18:24 “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The issue here is also that in order to have a friend, one must be a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). Also, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
- Accept One Who Brings Out The Best In You – Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
- Accept One Who Loves You As He/She Loves Him/Herself – David and Jonathan 1 Samuel 18:1-3 “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
- David understood that Jonathan was a true and loyal friend
- He was a worshipper of God and godly friends beget godly behaviour
- Those who fear God are, make excellent friends. Psalm 119:63 says 63“I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”
- Accept One Who Is Honest When You Sin, and Tells You – Proverbs 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
- True friends will tell you the truth, whether it hurts you or not, but will do so in love
- Accept One Who Will Give You Good Counsel – Proverbs 27:9, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”
- Accept One Who Will Encourage and Improve Your Christian Life – Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
- Accept One Who Is Wise – Proverbs 13:20 20He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
While these two categories exist, there are those who are like a yoyo; I’d like to call them fair and foul weather friends.
- Fair and Foul Weather Friends – Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for the day of adversity.
A friend is a friend is a friend, reliable and consistent. Look at David and Jonathan; they had one of the greatest friendships ever known of all time. In fact it was so great that 1 Samuel 18:3 says Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. You know, when people get married, don’t they say they married their best friend?
And Jesus demonstrated that to us Himself when He said in John 15:13 that 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is a relationship where He died for His bride, the church, you and I! This is a perfect example of a friend loving a friend as he loves himself. So, the greatest friend is God (we will talk more about this later)
So, who is a godly friend? A godly friend is all of the above and one of the greatest blessings one can ever have. If you are only getting headaches from your relationship, then that is not a godly one.
I would like to draw an illustration from David and Jonathan of the characteristics of a godly friend; Jonathan (royalty) was far above David (the shepherd) in pedigree. Yet look at this: he was also a friend far superior to David’s jealous and envious brothers. 1 Samuel 17:28 says 28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
That is not all. When David was summoned before king Saul, his brothers were nowhere to be found; but is it not interesting that we never read of these jealous and envious brothers again? We also read that Jonathan, who stood to lose much, loved David dearly, 1 Samuel 18:1-4, and chose friendship over ambition, power, wealth. In addition, says 1 Samuel 19:1-7 Jonathan, who loved both righteousness and family, chose righteousness over family.
What about the covenant between the two? Their covenant was powerful and against the blood ties of Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:1-17. And moreover, Jonathan, heir to the throne of his father, king Saul, chose to be subservient, serving David. You can read all about that in 1 Samuel 23:14-18. To show us to what extent friendship should last and how far it should extend, the covenant between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 23:42) encompassed their children. Yes, as per the covenant, which we can read about in 2 Samuel 9:1; 21:7, David preserved Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. That is amazing and a challenge to us today!
The Bible also says that David valued Jonathan’s friendship (love) better than that of women, 2 Samuel 1:26. No wonder David did not ignore Jonathan’s crippled son. Amen