“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26, New King James Version).
Do you ever thank God for the wonderful friends He has placed in your life? I do. I realize that good friends enrich my life and encourage me in my walk with the Lord. Of course, not all friends are on the same level. Some are just acquaintances or casual friends. We are friendly when we meet at an event, but we really don’t invest in each other’s life. We feel closer to others and are comfortable sharing to a certain level. And then there are our intimate friends, that deepest level of friendship, where we can reveal our hearts and speak into each other’s life. Even Jesus had His inner circle of Peter, James, and John.
As Proverbs 12:26 tells us, it’s important to choose the right friends in life. Those we associate with can influence our thoughts and our actions. The wrong friends may lead us into areas we don’t need to go. Proverbs 22:24-25 warns, “Do not make friends with an angry person, and do not associate with a wrathful person, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (New English Translation). I discovered this personally a number of years ago. One day I realized I no longer enjoyed my job as much as before and dreaded going to work. The job hadn’t changed, so what had? After carefully thinking about the situation, I realized an unhappy coworker’s attitude was rubbing off on me. Once I pinpointed the cause, I worked to keep my attitude positive. That person changed jobs shortly thereafter, which also helped.
As a child, I was shy and had trouble with this friendship thing. My mom would encourage (umm…push) me out to play with the neighborhood kids and tell me, “If you want friends, you have to show yourself friendly” (her paraphrase of Proverbs 18:24). It wasn’t easy for me. And, frankly, it isn’t always that easy as an adult either.
Not everyone is comfortable walking into a room of strangers and starting a conversation. Probably few of us are. Yet once we make the effort, we discover there are some really nice people in the room, and we share several common interests. Eventually we may become close friends–or even make that inner circle. We won’t know unless we reach out with that first smile and a hello.
When Mom quoted Proverbs 18:24 to me, she only gave the first part of the verse. The last half says, “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I have found this to be so true in life. I have friends who stick tight through life’s ups and downs. They are there for me when I need them. But I am most thankful for the best Friend I’ve ever had. Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
Prayer: Lord, I am thankful for friends who love me unconditionally, encourage me when I’m down, and pray for me. I appreciate these wonderful people You have placed in my life. Help me to show them the same love and concern they have given me. And, thank You, Lord, for being the friend that sticks closer than a brother. You are my ultimate friend!