How Do You Choose Friends Wisely?
Your friends are the most influential people in your life next to your family. For many people, you might even be closer to your friends than you are to your family. Who are ‘they’ for you? It’s important to choose the right ‘they’ in your life.
Just like a commercial fisherman culls his catch, removing the things he doesn’t want or need, we must continually evaluate who we’re inviting into our lives.
What kind of people are the ‘right’ friends? What are ‘they’ like?
- Tough – The best friends are tough. When I use the word tough, I’m not talking about someone who is mean-spirited. I’m talking about someone who is committed. When you look at the essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ, what true friendship or relational harmony is really all about, it’s commitment. We live in a culture where feelings rule. It’s all about feelings. Don’t go with your feelings. Go with commitment. Because so often, our hearts and our feelings will lie to us. Commitment, though, means to pledge yourself to a stance no matter what the circumstances are.
- Honest – The right friends are honest. Lying, exaggerating, or just telling you what you want to hear doesn’t work in the relational world. You’ve got to speak the truth, but always clothe it in love. It doesn’t mean you’re mean-spirited. It doesn’t mean you’re argumentative. It means, though, that you tell the truth. Too many people have too many relationships where truth is not at the center. Again, it goes back to Jesus—Jesus, totally and completely tough; Jesus, totally and completely honest. To become a Christian, you’ve got to be honest enough about your condition to establish this friendship—this relationship—with God.
- Encouraging – We want to be encouraged, not discouraged. We want to be around people who applaud us. I don’t want people in my life who disrespect me. As you look at the ‘they’ in your life, are they encouraging? When you see their number or name come up on your phone, are you like, “Yeah!” or are you like, “Oh, no.” I want to be encouraged because the world is discouraging enough. It’s the gravity of depravity trying to pull you and me down.
- Yielded – Your friends must be yielded to God and to you. Good friends who have their priorities in the right place are in your corner when everyone else bolts.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4 about those who deserted him. But then he talks about a few people who were in his corner, who didn’t dis him, who stayed with him.
Think about David when he was calling his mighty men together. How did he know if they were mighty? He said, “Are you with me?” He didn’t say, “OK, how many hours are you spending praying? How many hours are you spending in the Old Testament?” No, David said, “Are you with me?”
How about the friends in your life? Are they with you? This is a great thing for managers, CEOs, anyone in a leadership position, a coach, or a teacher to ask: “Are you with me?”
Be Discerning in Your Relationships
This is where we need discernment. Proverbs is a book about wisdom. And for those of us who are walking in fullness in our relationship with God and in relationship with the right ‘they,’ we must have discernment. We need discernment to make wise choices and be able to read people.
Pray for wisdom about friends
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit of God to lead you. If you have the cringe factor, if you’re like, ’Wow, I kind of have a check in my spirit that doesn’t seem right,’ so often that’s the Holy Spirit whispering to you, “Watch out. That’s someone who will use you.”
To those of us who are believers, we extend grace. When you offer grace to people now and then, they might put it back in your face. That’s part of it. Look what they did to Jesus. Yet only those people who are close to us can betray us. We learn from that and move on. We love everyone. We swim, though, with just a few.
Invite some relationships out of your life
Who are the ‘they’ in your life? Are they tough? If they’re not, invite them out. Are they honest? If they’re not, invite them out. Are they encouraging? If they’re not, invite them out. Are they yielded? If not, invite them out.
Accept input from your loved ones
Many people have the right ‘they’ in their lives, but they don’t listen to them. They don’t lean into them. They’re being soloists. They’re trying to do life themselves. They’re not opening themselves up. These things will get you killed.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
Proverbs 27:19 (TLB) says, “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”
Fill the God-vacuum with God
There’s a vacuum in our lives. But if you live a life with Christ, you fill the vacuum. God always has it filled better when we go His way.
Be yoked with believers
Don’t be mismatched. Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. We have friends, but we only have fellowship with people who are close and intimate with the Lord.
Select Relationships Carefully
The Bible says this over and over again, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation; from Israel claiming the Promised Land to Jesus picking the disciples, His inner circle, the right ‘they’ is referenced throughout Scripture.
We have to make these decisions carefully, with prayer and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. We have to be smart about these decisions because ‘they’ can keep us away from what God wants us to do.
Evaluate Your Relationships
Who are you letting into your life? Who are you letting out of your life? Perhaps it’s time to take an inventory of your friends and relationships. Those closest to you are there to help, to assist, because we’re all going to go through tough times. That’s why it’s so critical to have the right ‘they’—people who reflect God’s priorities and point us back to God as opposed to the things of the world.
Prayerfully ask God whom He wants you to spend time with. The answers might surprise you!
If you’re looking to form positive, healthy friendships with other believers, visit us in person or online at Fellowship Church, where we lift up and encourage each other in the Lord.
Want to learn more? Watch the related sermon.