Whom do you associate with? Do you surround yourself with worldly people who model the absence of a love for Christ to you? Or do you have Christian friends–people who are like-minded in their love of and devotion to Him–who are willing to give of themselves to you, help bear your burdens, and encourage you in your walk with Christ?
“But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you.” (Ephesians 6:21)
Jesus tells us to witness Him to everyone, but our friends–our most intimate support network–should share our love of and commitment to Him. This is not to say we shouldn’t interact with those around us; of course we should. How else can we witness to them? Jesus Himself interacted with “the world”–sinners separated from God living their lives as seemed best to them. Yet the purpose of His interactions was to minister to them–to bring them to a closer relationship with and gain a better understanding of Himself and the Father. His closest friends were those He called to specifically follow Him–those He had mentored and revealed the most to about the Father and His kingdom. And while Christ’s purposes for choosing the disciples was for their benefit–to reveal Himself and the Father to them and prepare them to call others to His kingdom–the people we surround ourselves with should also be concerned with following Christ.
The reason we should spend our life serving Christ by witnessing Him in every circumstance and opportunity to those we interact with on a daily basis, yet choose godly individuals as our closest friends and confidants is two-fold. God tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV) This means that we build off of each other–we pick up attitudes and beliefs from those we interact with most, and they learn from us. So the reasons we should choose God-fearing friends is so that we can be positively impacted by them, and they by us.
Remember, our friends influence us. God tells us, “Be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals,” and it is true. If those we spend the most time with live to get drunk, we will be more likely to adopt that lifestyle; if they are free with their affections and bodies with those they are not married to, eventually this will seem normal to us too. On the other hand, if they live lives of integrity–if they speak the truth, for example–we will be more likely to be honest; if they engage in God-honoring activities and frequently discuss the goals they spend their time on, that, too, will rub off on us.
We should never under-estimate the positive impact of fellow Christians. Not only do we tend to subliminally soak up their attitudes and habits (and they ours), they can also offer godly counsel that can keep us from making poor decisions. As we mature, and especially during young adulthood, we tend to pull away from our parents in an effort to become “our own selves.” This is not necessarily wrong, but shutting our parents–who love and care for us most–out of our lives exposes us to the possibility of unchecked bad decisions. Having close friends who know the Lord well and love Him sincerely gives us an added buffer of protection: if they feel comfortable enough confronting and challenging us, they may just keep us from making a serious mistake. Proverbs teaches, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of [wise] counselors they are established.”(Proverbs 15:22)
So, do you choose your friends well? Do you surround yourself with worldly people who model a lack of an interest in, and love for, Christ to you? Or do you choose Christian friends who are willing to give of themselves to you, help bear your burdens, and encourage you in your walk with Christ? Choose your friends wisely, because it might make the difference between a life on track, or one derailed!
Give us faithful Christian friends all of our lives–men like Tychicus, who are beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord and Your faithful people! Amen.