Read: Proverbs 13:20
Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.
Our parents used to say things like, “You know, it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch.” Or, “Just remember, if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get fleas.”
Were they trying to tell us something that experience had taught them? You bet: that the company we keep will influence the kind of person we will become.
Of course, the typical teenager isn’t too thrilled with mom and dad trying to control their friends. But good parents know how critically important this issue is, and want to spare their children the needless pain of being led astray by wayward friends. Parents know the bad habits and careless ways that can be picked up when kids have negative influences speaking into their lives.
In Proverbs 13:20, King Solomon said, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools sufferers harm.” The Apostle Paul said essentially the said thing in I Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”
On the flip side, if there are certain people whose influence we should avoid, then there are certain people whose friendship we ought to cultivate. What kind of people? Here’s what Solomon says:
First, we should pursue and cultivate the kinds of friends that are immovable. Friends like this are going to be with you heart and soul, from start to finish, even and especially through the rough spots in your life. Someone has wisely stated, “Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.” Those are the kinds of folks you want influencing your life.
“A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for adversity.” ~Proverbs 17:17
Second, we should pursue and cultivate the kind of friends that are available. We are not to rely entirely on the friendships of yesterday, as important and foundational as they may have been; we must work to keep our friendships current.
“Do not forsake your friend and the friend of you father, and do not go to your brother’s house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” ~Proverbs 27:10
We’re better off with current, accessible friends, than depending on “a brother far away” — one who is either physically or emotionally distant.
Third, we should pursue and cultivate the kinds of friends that are truthful. There is an old Jewish proverb that says, “A friend is one who warns you.” We need to be in close relationship with at least one other person who is lovingly and honestly committed to the growth of our character.
“Better an open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” ~ Proverbs 27:5-6
Do you have people in your life who are immovable, available and honest? If you do, thank God for them! And go out of your way to express gratitude for them. Don’t take them for granted. Appreciate them, nurture them, and make yourself as much of a blessing to them as they are to you.
“We should be slow in choosing a friend, even slower in changing.”
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Ask: First of all, ask God to bring at least one person into your life who will become a true, biblical friend to you. Keep it as a matter of prayer, and God will begin to bring people into your life that he knows will be good for you.
Look: Then begin to look for people who would fit into the definition of a Proverbs-type friend. It could be they are already near, so don’t overlook the obvious. Since you’ve prayed, expect an answer. That’s the way God works.
Build: Establish points of contact with that person and build a relational bridge to them. It won’t happen over night, but with reaching out to them in consistent friendship, it will happen.