Some argue that Christians should invite everyone into their circle of friends, but what does the Bible really advise about the friends we make and the people with whom we spend a lot of time?
The author of this article is a former prosecuting attorney, who came into contact with many bright and talented young people facing the criminal justice system.
The collective testimony of these young defendants reveals that long before they were charged with an offence, they made poor choices of friends. Two examples illustrate this point:
Chuck attended a privileged school and came from a good family, but he made the wrong friends who tempted him to experiment with alcohol and marijuana. One night after he left a party he was arrested and convicted for driving under the influence and possession, resulting in him spending time in jail and having a criminal record for the rest of his life.
Jennifer grew up in a Christian home with a positive group of friends at church and school and had a goal of becoming a veterinarian. However, everything changed when she started spending more time with a delinquent group of friends who were into drugs and other illicit activities. Within three years, she was married, divorced and had two children by two different men.
In each of these cases a decent person chose to form relationships with foolish and unprincipled individuals and eventually gave into their values and lifestyle.
Our Bibles contain timeless instructions dealing with the important issue of how we choose our friends. Proverbs 13:20 instructs us that “he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm,” and Proverbs 1:10-16 warns against befriending those who engage in sinful lifestyles. In verse 15, Solomon warns, “My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood.” The apostle Paul, in the New Testament repeats this advice: “Do not be misled: ‘bad company corrupts good character’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Many successful leaders also emphasise the importance of choosing one’s friends and associates wisely. Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, in his best-selling book Leadership (2002), discusses the importance of this issue at length in a chapter titled Surround Yourself With Great People.
Distinguished leadership author John Maxwell teaches this same principle. In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998), Mr. Maxwell writes, “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.” He calls this principle “The Law of the Inner Circle.”
The biblical example supports us ensuring we have a circle of supportive friends with shared values. We should also note that as well as being on the “receiving end” of positive friendships, we should also strive to be a positive friend ourselves, setting a godly example and contributing to the lives of others, while taking care not to succumb to the wrong influences.
Vertical Thought Magazine