Of course you know the old adage…‘show me your friends and I’ll tell you your character’!

You can tell a lot many things about a person by looking at the company they keep. In my years as a Pastor and Church leader I’ve seen damage done time and again and sometimes irreversible…when people still continue to hang out with old friends only to find themselves pulled back from the church fellowship to the world.

Don’t ever think you can ‘handle’ that and not be affected by their influence and persuasions.

Before I became a Christian I thought my friends were all I had.

We would meet daily, and sometimes for hours into the night…smoking ‘charas’ and ‘ganja’, listening to music, partying and playing in different bands all over South Mumbai. We were a ‘gang’ that nobody could mess with. We were strong, quick to anger and ready to pick a fight with anyone, and size did not matter.

Then I gave my life to Jesus.

Things changed drastically. My friends thought I had chickened out and become timid. They called me names and some even made fun of me. I had to restrain myself from rearranging their faces! God took a hold of my life in such a way that my friends could not fill the need that I had in my spirit. I left them for good. No, don’t think what you are thinking…they were still my friends, but I did not hang out with them anymore. Now I am not saying that you should never mingle with non-Christians or old friends but when they begin to have a negative effect on your spiritual life, then it’s time to loosen the reins and come out.

I made new friends. My ‘old life’ soon did not have any more meaning. My conversations changed, my heart longed for this new thing called ‘fellowship’. The love I had for God and the Church and the desire I had to serve Jesus was the greatest thing that happened to me. I completed my studies and began a job, setting my perspectives right for my future. This was great! I enjoyed every bit of it, and spent a lot of time with new friends I made. Till…

Soon after I joined church, one day two guys got together and called me to their home. We sat around for awhile before one of them brought out a whiskey bottle and soon the other took out a pack of cigarettes and they offered me to take part in what they were doing. I was taken aback! Shocked! These were young people in the church! I walked out! Never to be friends with them again. I knew deeply in my heart, my calling was far far greater than these guys who did not take Christ seriously.

Surprised? Don’t be! You’ll find not all come to church for the right reasons. And no matter what happens in the Presence of God these people remain unmoved. They gossip, criticise, snigger and snipe behind your back and hate to see you grow in God. They want you to become like them and take part in what they do and feel what is right.

Here’s a pointer…they think know everything, and are right about all things!

I notice many have ‘Facebook’ accounts. There is a tab for friends there. Do you really know them? Are they really your friends? So then what is a friend?

The dictionary defines a friend as ‘a person who has a real liking for and confidence in another person.’ W.E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of NT Words, says it is one who is ‘loved, dear.’

The term ‘friendship’ is found only once in the New Testament (Jas. 4:4). It comes from the Greek word ‘philia’ which is akin to ‘philos’ which is translated ‘love.’ Vine suggests it includes the idea of ‘loving as well as being loved.’

The Bible contains examples of friendship which illustrate this. Its most classic example is that of the friendship of David and Jonathan. ‘Now when 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’ (1 Sam. 18:1). Their love for and confidence in one another is a lesson all who would be and have friends should learn. The apostle Paul and Timothy developed a liking for and a confidence in one another. ‘I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also’ (2 Tim. 1:3-5).

Friendship means the same today. Our close friends are those whom we love and are dear to us. They are those in whom we have trust and confidence that they hold us dear.

A friend must not only be good to us…but also good for us!

Here are some basics for choosing the right friends…

The Apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15:33 — ‘Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ So please take seriously what I am saying. It is better to have a few friends, who will be the right kind of friends than a multitude of the kind who could cause us to lose our souls.

Your friends…

  • Must have good morals and character (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • Must be modest and honest (1 Timothy 2:9)
  • Must abstain from drinking alcohol (1 Peter 4:3)
  • Must bridle their tongues (James 1:26)
  • Must have an honest and open lifestyle (Luke 8:15)
  • Must be one who keeps the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7)

We must select as friends who regard spiritual things as more important than material things. We must not be deceived into thinking that we can choose otherwise and not be affected by the ‘spirit’ of the world.

So my advice is find wise people and be in their company as much as possible. It could literally save your life!

Hey! You can either be cool or a fool!  You choose.