Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV) 26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
I love how simple and powerful some of the proverbs can be. Here we are told the value in choosing our friends carefully. It is a choice we make on a daily basis, yet do we really give it the consideration it demands? If we have the choice to befriend those of our choosing, we must do so with the understanding that they could ultimately lead us astray. Many times certain circumstances lead us into relationships, it is up to us to decide whether or not we allow these people into our inner circles. So, what should we be looking for in a friend? Loyalty John 15:12–13 (12) This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends… A good friend will be there for you, laying down one’s life may sound a little harsh, but a loyal friend will certainly set everything aside to be with their friend in times of need. We should be looking for that friend that is continually there for us. Likewise, we must also be the type of friend that is going to drop everything for a friend in need. Good Example Proverbs 13:20 (20) He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed… As we look to add to our inner circle of friends, one of the most important characteristics we should be examining is the example they are. Are they wise men or are they foolish men? Wise men (or women) can be an example for us, they can help us become wiser, we can learn from them, they ultimately can lead us to a stronger relationship with the Lord. Unwise men can and will lead us away from the Lord because of the convictions they are feeling in their own hearts. Once again, it is vital that we are a positive example for those around us as well! Honesty Meets Accountability Proverbs 27:17 (17) As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend… When I am choosing my friends, I look for those who are going to be honest with me. Do not get me wrong, it hurts when facing rebuke from friends, but if it is coming from biblical truth, it is wise to listen. When we are honest with our friends as you witness them stumbling, and have good biblical conversation, it can lead to both change and future accountability. It should be the goal of every friend to help facilitate a closer relationship with the Lord. Christ-like Character 1 Corinthians 15:33 (33) Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” If we are looking for friends, we should be looking for those with Christ-like character. If we choose to befriend those with good character, we can look at this verse in the reverse. Good company should promote good habits. You may be thinking “isn’t that the same as having a friend that is a good example?” Yes and no. Yes, having Christ-like character is being a good example, but, Christ-like character is taking that a step further. Being a good example is showing the world that you are indeed a good example. Character is measured by your actions when nobody is watching. There is a huge difference. Closing Thoughts: There are a lot of people in this world, some are good influences, while others are not. We must choose our friends very carefully. At the end of the day, the measure of a good friend is this… Do they bring you closer or further away from God? If we really examine our friendships, we will see that each friend falls in one category or the other. We must embrace those that bring us closer to our Lord and allow those friendships that do not help us strengthen our walk to slowly dissipate. James 4:4 (NKJV) 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.