"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." (NIV) Proverbs 17:17
Friendship is one of the important relationships that can impact our lives. Some friendships result in valuable blessings while others land us in bad situations. Our selection criteria often determine whether we will have a good friend, bad friend or opportunistic friend, etc. How then do we choose our friends and how do we become good friends with others?
Friendship is being kind, loving and caring about others. As Christians, we should know the influence of friends on us and how we should influence friends. In general, humans stay in groups and tend to learn cultures and attitudes from each other. Therefore, the quality of our friends influences us either positively or negatively. Undoubtedly, good friends can be more than siblings and they make us better. As the wise man, Solomon put it – “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Prov. 13:20). He continues by urging us to avoid taking bad people as friends because they will influence us negatively- “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Prov. 22:24-25).
After knowing who to choose as friends, how do we make great friendships? The answer is summarized in the quote - “Be friendly to have a friend”. Do not abuse friendship with others by taking advantage of them for personal and selfish gains (Prov. 27:6, Prov. 25:17). Forgive friends when they err against you (Colossians 3:13) and be ready to help friends who are in need (John 3:17).
Great friendship needs to be preserved for the benefit of the people involved and for God. Let us not betray the trust our friends have in us (Proverbs 11:13). Let us avoid hurting our friends intentionally and we must be willing to commit to maintaining the relationship. Sowing the gospel seed to our friends will be much easier if we take our time to grow stable and mutual relationships.
Interestingly, people don’t care about what you know until they know how you care about them. Therefore, let us care about others in our society by availing ourselves as great friends and by that we can influence them for Christ (Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:10). Let us work hard to pick, produce and preserve meaningful friendship as a great vehicle for the gospel.
You can make Christianity attractive to your friends. Amen.