It would be so great to say that I have always walked with a "wise" crowd of friends. Those who always exercise good judgement and common sense. Those who no matter how long you are around them, make you want to strive to be a better person, both fleshly and spiritually. If we choose to make friends with this type of person, God tells us that their wisdom will rub off and we will be wise as well. It's true, we take on the attributes of our friends and those we are around the most. Have you ever noticed that husbands and wives, after being married a while, seriously start to behave like each other? My sister-in-law tells me all the time, "You have been married to Thomas too long . . . you act just like him!" I'm not sure what she's getting at, but I'll take it (lol).
Unfortunately, the same goes for our foolish and carefree friends. Those who seem to have no good judgement and their common sense is a few bricks short of their load. But we love them! If we are not careful though, we will begin to take on their characteristics as well. There is a positive for every negative. If wise friends will help us to become wise, it would logically mean that foolish friends will cause us to become and behave foolishly. The Lord said, that a companion of fools will be destroyed.
One of my favorite movies as a teenager (and well adult too,) was Labyrinth. It has music and puppets, I was sold! In once scene, Sarah falls down a whole after picking the wrong door knocker. Poor thing fell right into the pit of "helping hands." Their job was to move her up or down the pit to a new destination. Common sense tells you that if you fall down something, to get out you must go up. She chooses down because that is the way she is pointing (foolish). Which ended her up in an Oubliette, a dark hole where she was supposed to stay until she forgot why she was there, or ultimately died. Why am I telling you this? Because this is what happens to us when we surround ourselves with foolish friends. We end up making the wrong decision, because their attributes have moved over and devoured our wisdom. This is the destruction that God is warning us about. The destruction of ourselves. Sadly, those who have not accepted Christ, who surround themselves with foolish friends, will reap the ultimate destruction of never accepting Him and spending an eternity in Hell. Yeah, I'd say that is the ultimate destruction.
Searching the Scriptures over at Blue Letter Bible (this is my go to online Bible search), the Lord showed me three things that we can do, to not only be wise friends, but the right kind of friend. Friendship is a gift from God, and if you have the right kind of friends, you are truly blessed. How much more of a blessing to BE the right kind of friend. To show wisdom and discernment, good judgement and common sense. Our world is lacking these things today. Christians are lacking these things today! So without running on (cause you know I will - lol), I'd like to share with you Three Characteristics of A Wise Friend, and I hope that if you are not already applying these to your friendships that you will reconsider.
A WISE FRIEND WILL BE . . .
In Acts 27 (vs 1-3), Paul is being shipped to Italy, as a prisoner. No cushy bed, no color television and no place to, uh hum, go to the little boys room. It's nasty and smelly, and plain out GROSS! Unlike most prisoners (then and now) Paul kept a good Spirit and repor about himself and that was noticed by others. Julius (his guard), entreated him and gave him liberty to go and see his friends in Sidon. I don't know of any prison guards today, that would give a prisoner freedom to go see his friends - even if he was a totally awesome prisoner! Julius took some pity on Paul and gave him this liberty with a purpose. "And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to REFRESH him." (Acts 27:3) If anyone needed refreshing - it was Paul.
The last thing he needed was a foolish, doom and gloom friend. The person who, no matter what, can and will find the most negative aspects of their friend's troubles. I'm pretty sure that Paul did not need reminding that he was a prisoner, or that he smelled and needed to comb his hair! No, he needed to be REFRESHED. He needed someone to give him some new vigor and energy. A hot meal, a place to take that desperately needed shower and some serious, long over due rest. Paul needed to be mentally stimulated with memories of how good God had been and how he had used him (and would continue to do so.) Paul needed his friends to remind him of good things and to be cheered up. These are all the things that a Refreshing Friend will do. Keep it positive, use wisdom and discernment to know what to talk about and when.
"There's no friend, like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one! How true are the words to this beautiful song? There is not a friend like Jesus anywhere on the planet. Why? Because Jesus loved with his whole life. Proverbs 18:24, tells us that if we want friends, we have to be friendly (ouch!) and ... that there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother! (I paraphrase because I will touch on this verse a little later.) Jesus was probably the only friend that could say, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," (John 15:14) and get away with it! Probably because he didn't say it in the, I'm the boss and you do what I say because. No, he continues to explain to them what his friendship means. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you FRIENDS; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto thee." (John 15:15)
The wisest of the wise said that he is our friend because he REVEALED what God, his Father, had said to him. Friends don't keep God's Word from Friends! Using wisdom and discernment, Jesus revealed all things that God had told him. Why is it, when we see our friends hurting or fixing to make a bad decision, we say nothing? God has revealed to us an entire book of knowledge and wisdom that we can REVEAL to others to help them. Witnessing and sharing the gospel is one of the most important things we can do to be a right friend. If my husband had never cared enough to share Jesus with me (he took me to the Halloween thing where I got saved), I might still be lost. And how much more do I love him for caring about my soul!? No, he didn't know what to say to me exactly, but he cared enough to find someone who could REVEAL the Word of God to me so that I could accept Jesus. How sad is it that we will share intimate details of our lives and past with our friends and then hesitate to open our mouths to share Jesus Christ with them?
The parable of the sheep, followed by the parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15) are so significant to our Christian lives. Here is a shepherd, who has 100 white, fluffy sheep and one is now missing. By today's standards he should have cut his losses and filed for a tax right off on the missing sheep, then when on about his business. No, not a good shepherd. Jesus as the Good Shepherd explains that this man goes out and find his one sheep, lays it on his shoulders and carries it home rejoicing. Self rejoicing people, those who can do it when nobody is around, just them and what ever they have been blessed with are a rarity! If we want to be the right kind of friend, we must be able to rejoice by ourselves. Not rejoicing personally with God, will make it very difficult to rejoice with others later. Can you be happy about your friends blessings? There was a time in my life when I would have to answer a big fat NO! to this question.
After rejoicing with the Lord about finding his one sheep, the shepherd takes it a step further. "And when he cometh home, he called together his FRIENDS and neighbours, saying unto them, REJOICE with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." (Luke 15:6) As a wise friend we should be willing to rejoice with our friends. Nevermind what we think they should have done differently, or what we feel God is doing. When our friends are happy because they have gotten a blessing from the Lord, we should be happy for and WITH them. A wise and right friend will Praise God with their friends over their blessings - no matter how big or how small!
Going through this little study on the characteristics of friends in the Bible, I have realized that in my own friendships, more than I would like to admit, I have played the fool. The irrational, no holds barred, judgement and common sense flying out the window, fool. I pray, not only that you will take these Characteristics and apply them to your lives, but that I also can take them and apply them in mine. Especially in my marriage (because my husband is my best friend). I can't wait to start being a wise and right kind of friend.
Do you look for specific characteristics in your friends? Share them with me, and lets build beautiful, happy and healthy friendships together!