A theme I try to stress in my Tuesday night Bible classes is the importance of choosing good friends. Friendship develops slowly. There is so much time and emotion invested in developing friendships that the thought of intentionally letting a friendship go sounds unreasonable at best and just plain wrong at worst. Yet, everyone cultures some friendships to the exclusion of others. Choosing friends is more than a one-time selection process. It is a constant re-evaluation process. When a friend encourages bad environments and bad choices, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship and find new friends.
I listen to the anecdotal accounts of time spent with friends and can’t help but think about the wisdom of making friendships among Christians. Solomon wrote: Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Eccl. 4:9-12).
Have you ever thought about Satan’s temptation of Eve? He was never interested in her alone. He wasn’t willing to be happy with getting 50% of the human population to sin against God. He always intended to lead both into sin. But he picked them off one at a time. I don’t know how close by or how far away Adam was when Eve was being tempted, but I do know that Satan chose to work on her heart exclusively. How differently things might have turned out if only Eve had talked it over with Adam before she made her decision! Satan didn’t need the garden of Eden to do his destructive work. He only needed an isolated soul. Eve’s first bad choice was to remain in a situation where she was cut off from any encouraging words.
We can all see the devastation of a ruined life that came about because someone, in a moment of weakness, made the wrong choice while alone. It happens in a bar, on a business trip, or even on a busy street. Once the choice is made and the deed is done, there is no going back. And nothing is ever the same again.
God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He tells us to prefer one another. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor (Romans 12:10). We find strength in the fellowship of Christian friends. We find role models for our faith. We find partners in our work of service. We find a loving acceptance that has no parallels outside the fellowship of Christian bonds.
How different things might be if every Christian truly believed that his or her lifelong friendships could only be found among believers. We don’t see the immediate harm of choosing friends who aren’t Christians and may even convince ourselves that if we prefer them over the brethren, we’ll be making the better decision. We won’t. Think of all those you know who were once strong in their faith but now are completely lost to the world. How many of them told you they had to stop being involved in the church that God placed them in because their Christian friends were corrupting their soul?
Culture your friendships in Christ this week and resolve to make them stronger in the coming year. It will make a big difference – and it will be the best decision you’ll make.
Keep studying and keep serving! DC Brown ©2015