“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
- Proverbs 12:26 NKJV
The above verse reveals that God expects us to use godly wisdom and discernment in making friends. Jesus had thousands of followers and hundreds of disciples, but He chose only twelve men to spend most of His time with. And His “inner circle” consisted of only three men--Peter, James, and John. If the Son of God was so careful about who He chose as His close companions, shouldn't we be at least as careful? Amos 3:3 (NKJV) says, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” No, they can't. That means that if we are walking with unbelievers, we are going to have to make some compromises to stay in relationship with them. And those compromises will come between us and God. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” We see evidence of this truth all around us--God's people who mistakenly believe that they can be in relationship with unbelievers without suffering the consequences. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) We like to think we are immune to the negative influences of wrong companionships, but the Lord knows otherwise, and that's why He has so much to say about this subject in His Word.
In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul writes: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers... What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever...? ‘Therefore, come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.’” (v.14,15,17 NIV) God makes it clear that it's absolutely essential for our closest companions to be people who love the Lord. If they aren't, how can they hold us accountable as Christians? Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV) says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Our real friends will correct us when we need it, while a false friend will only tell us what we want to hear, even if we're doing something wrong, and are headed for destruction. For those who have a desire to be popular, God gives this warning in Proverbs 18:24 (NASB), “A man of many friends comes to ruin.” If you don't have a lot of friends, don't despair. God's Word indicates that you may be even more blessed having only one or two close friends, than having more.
So, what kind of friends does God want us to have? The psalmist tells us in Psalm 119:63 (NKJV), “I am a companion of all those who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.” Our closest friends should love the Lord and seek to please Him. If your closest companions are not believers, you are out of God's will, and you need to seek the Lord and ask Him how to separate yourself from these associations. I know from experience that He will show you how. When I first began getting serious about my relationship with the Lord, I had some close friends who did not know God. Some of these friendships were decades old, and it grieved my heart to think of ending them. But after seeking God's wisdom and guidance, I put these relationships on the altar, and I asked Him to help me to sever these ties in a way that would please and glorify Him. I won't say that it wasn't painful or difficult for me at times, but I must tell you that the Lord gave me a peace and reassurance that I still can't explain. And He eventually rewarded me with godly companions who have helped me to fulfill my God-given purpose and potential.
If you don't have some close believing friends, then you need to earnestly ask God for some. But keep in mind that He may not answer your prayer until you step out in faith, and begin distancing yourself from any unbelieving companions you have in your life right now. You may even have to endure a period of loneliness. If you do, you will have the opportunity to prove to God, yourself, and others that you are serious about pleasing Him in this area. And the Lord will reward you with new and exciting “divine connections” that will bless you, and bring you closer to Him. If you are a child of the King, you don't ever have to feel lonely or abandoned. Jesus Himself said, “I will not abandon you as orphans--I will come to you.” (John 14:18 NLT) And He wants to be your closest friend. (John 15:15) Today, open up your heart and let the Savior be to you all that He longs to be, and experience for yourself true friendship at its very best!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm tempted to satisfy my emotional and social needs outside of Your will, please strengthen me and remind of how much it could cost me. Show me how to separate myself from my wrong associations, and give me godly companions who will pray for me, and encourage my devotion to You. Thank You that I need never feel alone or abandoned because You are always near! (Hebrews 13:5)
- J. M. Farro