Keep good friends close

The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. – Proverbs 12:26

Who you hang out with is who you become. It is true today, it was true yesterday, and it will be just as true tomorrow. Those who are around you influence you for good or for bad, whether you like it or not. Even if the person you are with is not the type of person that you respect, he or she will still rub off on you.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you have friends? Or why do you want friends?  I asked myself this question, and the first answer I came up with was ‘fun.’ And I think that’s a good answer. I think ‘friends’ that bring no fun would be an oxymoron. If there was no ‘fun’ there would be no ‘friend.’ Acquaintance maybe; friend, no. But is ‘fun’ the only reason to have a friend, or is ‘fun’ the only requirement a friend must possess? For some people the answer is ‘yes,’ for me it is ‘no.’

My friend Darrin has often told the story of his so-called friends from high school. Each of these friends qualified as far as ‘fun’ was concerned, but that was it. The goal of their friendship was ‘fun,’ and they had lots of it together. But when Darrin was thrown into jail and came up on hard times, these ‘friends’ were nowhere to be found. No one visited him. When he had to move away, no one called him. The people he had spent the most time with in life were not there for him. His ‘friends’ weren’t much friends at all.

This little story should show us that a friend needs to be more than a person that we have a good time with. Friendship needs to go deeper than that. And although friendships should be fun, it should not be the sole reason for the friendship.  Friendships need to be built on something deeper than fun, and then fun can be the added bonus.

There was a man in the bible named Belshazzar. He was the son of the famed king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In the book of Daniel we find that he is throwing a party for all of his ‘friends.’ During the party he feels the need to impress his friends by fetching the gold vessels that had been taken from God’s house in Jerusalem. They all drank from these holy vessels and praised the god’s of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. God wasn’t too happy about it. You see, God had just taught Nebuchadnezzar that it was He that brought Babylon such power and wealth for His purposes. God taught him this by causing him to go crazy, and to eat grass like a cow for seven years. Now his son, who knew all this, thought it necessary to insult God by using His stuff to praise a lump of gold for bringing him such wealth. All this to have fun with his ‘friends.’

It’s amazing to what lengths people will go to keep or impress their friends. They will steal, lie, have sex, do drugs, smoke, you name it, all to be sure that ‘good-times’ will continue.

Belshazzar should of been friends with this guy named Daniel. Daniel had given his father some great advice, and was known throughout the land for his great wisdom.  Surely the king could have befriended him and gained greatly from his wisdom. But, no, Daniel was an old fuddy-duddy. Belshazzar had women to see and parties to throw. However, this was all about to change and the partying was about to become unimportant. When Belshazzar was praising his golden gods, a man’s hand appeared and wrote a message in the plaster of the wall. He was scared so bad that ‘the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other’ (Daniel 5:6). He called for all the wise men of Babylon to read the writing. None could. Finally he calls for Daniel, but it’s too late to be friends now. God uses Daniel to read the judgement pronounced by the writing on the wall, and Belshazzar is killed that same night.

Belshazzar’s desire to be ‘cool’ cost him his kingdom and his life. He should have befriended Daniel. He should have sought friends that would give him good advice and who would be willing to employ ‘tough-love’ when necessary. Instead he chose friends that were ‘cool’ and ‘fun,’ and left it at that.

Oh, how I see this all the time! So many people don’t think when choosing their friends and they end up hurting themselves so badly. Those friends lead them down a path that they weren’t intending to go, all in the name of ‘fun.’ This is why the bible says that ‘the righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.’ (Proverbs 12:26)

Are you being careful when choosing your friends? Are you settling for friends that drag you down because its hard to find good ones? Or are you leaving good friends, because they aren’t as ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ as these others?

I don’t have many friends. A lot of it may have to do with my inbred nerdiness, but some because I don’t want to waste my time with people that aren’t going in the same direction that I feel God wants me to go in. I want my friendships to have purpose. I want to talk about God and the bible. To me, that’s fun. Why? Because God is fun. God is the funnest guy I’ve ever hung around. Jesus is the coolest guy I’ve ever had the privilege to be with. To me, when you leave them out, you leave out the fun. Some people don’t think so, but that’s because they’ve never met the real Jesus. When you meet the real Jesus, you’ll know what I mean.

You need good friends. It’s better to have a few good friends, then a lot of no-good friends. Being choosy about your friends isn’t easy. People will get mad at you. They will wonder why you don’t want to hang out anymore. They will make you feel bad. It’s hard to tell them that they are stifling your spiritual walk – that doesn’t go over too well. Of course you should  invite them to journey with you on the higher plane that God has called you to, but if they don’t want to, you need to cut em loose. Still love them, minister to them when you can, pray for them, invite them to church, be nice to them, but when it comes to the people that you spend quality time with, they don’t need to be the ones.

Take the advice of the bible and choose your friends carefully. The wrong ones will lead you astray. I’ve seen it time and again, and I’ll see it until the day I die. You become who you hang around. Don’t be fooled into thinking that is not true for you. The bible wasn’t written by an idiot. God knows what He’s talking about. He says it all for your good. He wants you to have friends. He wants you to have fun. But he doesn’t want you to end up let Belshazzar. Better to have a few friends walk with you on the narrow road, then to run with the multitude towards destruction.