I was raised as a Christian, but when I got serious about my relationship with God shortly before my 40th birthday, the Lord began dealing with me about my friendships. He led me to study His Word in-depth day and night, and He began showing me Scriptures about the kind of companionships that I should have. I discovered Psalm 119:63 (NIV), which says, "I am a friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts." I had to be honest and admit that none of my friends revered or obeyed the Lord, His Word, or His ways. And I knew that I had some tough decisions to make.
Once I made the choice to start giving God first place in my life, I became a new person. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The problem was that my friends only knew the "old" me, and they would expect me to keep acting like the former me. Whether they meant to or not, they would likely try to limit me to my old behaviors and priorities, and they would hold me back from becoming all that God created me to be. Then I would never fulfill my God-given purpose and potential.
The Bible says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise." (Proverbs 13:20 NIV) This talks about the positive impact that the right kind of companions can have on us. The second part of this verse speaks about negative influences when it says, "but a companion of fools suffers harm." The simple truth is that we WILL be affected by those we hang around with. Spending time with "fools" - people who don't love or obey God - will poison our lives and keep us from fulfilling our God-given destiny.
When I made a quality decision to leave behind all of my old friends, I didn't make a big announcement. I simply began distancing myself from them little by little - first emotionally, and then physically. God supported my efforts, and leaving behind every friend I had - even those I had for decades - was easier than I thought it would be, once I made up my mind to go forward without them. I had to go through a season of loneliness, though. I saw it as a test of my faithfulness to God, and I knew that as I remained devoted to Him, He would reward me with new and better companionships.
Jesus tells us, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30 NASB) Twenty-six years later, I can tell you from personal experience that God keeps His promises to those who make sacrifices in order to love Him, seek Him, and serve Him the way He desires and deserves. If the Lord leads you to give up something - including a valued relationship - rest assured that it's because He has something even better in store for you!
Prayer: Lord, today, I surrender to You all that I am and all that I have, and I ask You to help me to fulfill my God-given destiny. Work in my heart so that I will never waver from Your will and purposes for my life. Show me which relationships You want me to relinquish, so that I can grow closer to You, and receive the new and better companionships You have for me. When I face pain and disappointment in following You wholeheartedly, I ask that You strengthen, reassure, and comfort me. Thank You for all of the earthly and eternal rewards that I will reap as I live my life for You!
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