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Friends and Friendship

It is good to have friends. People whom you can have fellowship with and enjoy yourself in their company, to talk, laugh and share your concerns. Some people have many friends, some people have few, but it is good to have someone as Proverbs 18:1 states: ‘A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgement’ and ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Proverbs 18:24).

A friend is someone you can talk to, one who will listen and sometimes they will give advice. Ideally, they will tell you when you are wrong in a loving attitude. A friend is someone who can laugh with, sometimes you will cry together. ‘Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel’ (Proverbs 27:9).

There was a time when I had to get serious with God. I was a backslider (who went to church every week) who had many friends yet none of them were Christians. We used to go out socialising and I thought I was having a good time, but without knowing, I had left the One Person out of my life. Slowly I had pushed Him away from me, and He was not welcome in the places that I went. I knew this because many people would blaspheme His name and they were living their lives contrary to what the Bible says. The One Person, who should have been the love of my life, I had unknowingly rejected; it was Jesus Christ. ‘The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray’ (Proverbs 12:26).

My ‘friends’ were good to me and we had fun together, they knew I was a “Christian” as I went to church every Sunday and they knew it. We all drove nice cars and earned good money at various companies in different fields of work. Spiritually we had a lot in common – simply, because God was not number one in my life (or theirs) and I did not love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

I decided to get right with God and prepared for baptism; something I should have done several years previously when God spoke to me. I invited all my friends and told God that whoever did not turn up I would take it as a sign that I was not meant to ‘hang out’ with them anymore. ‘He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed’ (Proverbs 13:20).

My closest friend, also a work associate never turned up. Gradually we drifted apart. I knew that I could not go to many of the former places where I used to socialise, and knew that Jesus was not welcomed there. I did not share the gospel like Jesus used to when He met with ‘sinners’ in questionable places.

After some months, I lost most of my friends, as I did not frequent these establishments anymore. We used to meet up occasionally and go to restaurants where we would be introduced to one another’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. Often the conversations drifted into the not very savoury, some of them were living immoral lives and we had little in common.

A power Scripture is 1 Corinthians 15:3, ‘Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.’

My former friends were happy to talk about politics or football, pretty much anything except God. I did share the gospel with some of them over time and some tracts were posted with Christmas cards, others I handed to them personally. More time passed and eventually we had nothing in common and drifted apart to lead are own lives. They were nice people, but they did not want to love my best friend, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.

I was without friends for a while, but I had Jesus the friend of sinners and I knew that ‘He would never leave me or forsake me.’ It was a lonely time, I was used to going out most nights of the week. However, I now spent more time in the Word and more time with God and I learnt a lot. I look back and still today think those ‘lonely’ months were some of the best investments in my life. It gave me a good grounding before the Lord called me to Bible College.

We need to be wise in our friendships as so often we can be led astray. It is easier to pull a person down from a table than to pull them up. I worked in a factory for a number of years and had good as well as bad experiences with my associates. It is not wrong to have non-Christian friends, but you need to be wise. ‘What has light to do with darkness?’ as the Scriptures says. They need to respect you and your beliefs. ‘Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go’ (Proverbs 22:4).

Some friends are worth holding onto and keeping in contact with, others are not. Some friends are good, but you just drift apart over time and this is natural. I like friends who will tell you when you are wrong (in a correct, gentle, humble, loving and concerned manner) and then you can deal with the situation.

‘He who rebukes a man will find more favour afterward than he who flatters with the tongue’ (Proverbs 28:23). A Christian friend was very critical about everybody and all things, and whilst I mentioned this to him on numerous occasions, only too late did I realised that his negativity had rubbed off on me. I decided to repent, and told my friend that what we had been doing was wrong. Many, many times I told my friend to stop it but he refused and still carried on oblivious to the damage he was causing. ‘He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends’ (Proverbs 17:9). Eventually enough was enough and the Lord told me to break of the friendship which was hard to come to turns with and did not happen over night. I gradually stopped seeing this person and no longer phoned. Sadly, he got hurt and then turned his criticism towards me.

If your friends are Christian, they should be a challenge to you in your faith. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend’ (Proverbs 27:17). Friends should go deeper with God. You should be encouraged to read the Bible more and to pray more, why not pray together sometimes. If a friend is taking you away from God or leading you astray then they are not real friends. A true friend can ask, “How is your walk with God going? What has He said to you today? What book of the Bible have you been reading today?” etc.

When things go wrong, friends should stick around. A friend is someone who comes in when everybody else goes out. It is no good being friends only in the good times, when the sun is shining but also when the storms break and the floods are let loose. If you only look out for yourself and your own security and shelter then friendship is only a word, a word without meaning, essence or substance. Even the sincerest of friends can make a mistake. Look at Peter who denied that he even knew Jesus on three occasion, yet that very night he claimed that he would die for Jesus (Matthew 26:31-75). Jesus restored Peter (John 21:15-19). Traditions say that Peter did die for Jesus on an upside down cross.

When a friend offends, forgive them because that is what Jesus would do. If you are not sure about what to do ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” You could ask a mature believer, say an elder or pastor. The greatest guide we have is the Holy Spirit and we have the Word of God to instruct us in the way that we should go. Jesus can be our best Friend and we should be the friend of God. Jesus said, “You are My friends IF you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).

- Mathew Backholer.


Mathew is the author of:
Revival Fire, 150 Years of Revivals Go
Extreme Faith, On Fire Christianity Go
Global Revival, Worldwide Outpourings Go
Discipleship For Everyday Living, Christian Growth Go
Understanding Revival and Addressing the Issues Go
Revival Answers, True and False Revivals Go
Revival Fires and Awakenings, Thirty-Six Visitations of the Holy Spirit Go
How to Plan, Prepare and Successfully Complete Your Short-Term Mission Go