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Choosing the right friends is really important when we talk about friendship and community. We have those people in our lives that we don’t really want to hang out with. And we have our reasons, which usually may be they’re negative attributes, their divisive, selfish, or simply bad influences.
We hopefully also have a few friends that have positive effects on us. They cheer us up, they bring joy, they are positive and caring, and probably are good influences on us.
So when we talk about being intentional in finding friendships and community, then we need to keep some things in mind. Because who we hang out with can effect us in good and bad ways. So for the ultimate wisdom, let’s turn to the Scriptures and see what wisdom we can find there.
The Bible is full of wise counsel when it comes to the friends we choose such as this opening verse for us:
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.Proverbs 13:20
We are who we hang out with. If you wanted to be the smartest kid in the classroom, then you should have been hanging out with the “nerds” right? Yet many of us, myself included, hung out with the fools. In our workplaces, if we want to move up the ladder, then we need to be sure we’re making friends with those that are workers as well. If we want to be wise, we’ll find wise people to befriend.
If we choose bad company…
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”1 Corinthians 15:33
This is one of those verses you may have heard as a “wise old saying.” Especially when you were young and hung out with that “wrong crowd.”
In my own life I got in a lot of trouble numerous times because of the people I was hanging out with. They were friends that lived life on the wild side, and it was a community I found myself in.
Sometimes when we’re looking for a community to belong to, we’ll lower our standards. Hang out with people that might be a little more risky than we are, just so we have a place of belonging. Self confidence plays a role in this for sure. Because if we aren’t confident about who we are, then we might find ourselves trying to be something we aren’t because we simply want to fit in. And sadly, most of the time, we end up trying to fit in with the wrong crowd instead of the right ones.
Sometimes when we’re looking for a community to belong to, we’ll lower our standards. Hang out with people that might be a little more risky than we are, just so we have a place of belonging.Tweet
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.Proverbs 22:24-25
We don’t have to go far today to find angry people right? There are so many issues today that strike up anger in those given easily to it. And it so easy for us humans to give into it. It doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite the flame of angry passion within us. So we must be guarded from those that tend to allow anger to rule within them.
Do not go with a wrathful man. Don’t take a trip with one bent on revenge is what I’d say here. You might find yourself in a predicament you don’t want to be in! Hence the snare…the trap, the situation that you didn’t ask for.
I’d bet that you, like me, would much rather be surrounded by friends that help build me up, speak life to me, and again, are a joy to be around.
Listen to these positive verses on having the right people around you. These verses define what kind of friends we should desire to have as we as what kind of friend we shall be.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11
Who doesn’t need encouragement? Who doesn’t need to be built up every now and then?
In this world it is so easy to find ourselves discouraged and beat down from all that is thrown at us in a typical day. How pleasant it is though to have someone around you that will be there to encourage you, to help pick you up. This is what a good community of friends should be for one another.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 1-:24-25
Another great reminder not only to be encouraging to one another, but to “stir one another to love and good works.” As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10
Good friends help us keep the right things in focus. They’re not going to distract us from doing what is right. They understand purpose, and will be there to encourage us in finding and staying on our purpose as well.
I love this word from Paul in his letter to the Romans…
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.Romans 1:11-12
This is understanding that we have gifts to give to one another for the encouragement of one another. Like I said last week, sometimes we need to remember that when we seek out others to befriend, we need to see it as us giving that person a gift. Taking the focus off of ourselves and seeking to serve the other person’s needs.
Give and Take
Community and friendships are always two way streets. They require give and take in the relationships. You have something to give someone else and at times you’ll be on the receiving end of someone else’s gifts to you.
Again, the Scriptures help guide us in being good community together.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:12-17
First notice, this a word to us as believers. It is a charge given. We are to put on these characteristics Paul lays out here: Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love.
Isn’t this the kind of community you want to belong to? It should be our goal to be this kind of community. Intentionally striving.
And then he reminds us, “we are called in one body.” We are in this together. We are to be encouragers just as well as we sometimes need encouragement. We need to be the burden bearers and sometimes need someone else to help bear our burdens.
We are in this together. We are to be encouragers just as well as we sometimes need encouragement. We need to be the burden bearers and sometimes need someone else to help bear our burdens.Tweet
He says that love binds all these together in perfect harmony. You need people that love you, and you need to be loving to those around you. When we love each other, we care for one another’s needs above our own. We’re willing to seek the best for one another.
We are to teach and admonish one another. I pray we learn to do this better every day.
You weren’t created to do life alone. You need others and others need you. You need the gift of friendship and community and others need you as their friend and their community.
But let us remember to be wise in who we befriend and are in community with, because it’s easy to be a fool in this life. It takes no effort, and there’s lots of other fools we can easily pick from.
It all takes wisdom and intentional action to find the right people to include in our lives. And I think we do a better job if we actively seek out those in need of friendship and community.
The Best Friend
In closing, I love this word I found from the book of Job.
Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me,Job 29:4-6
Has God’s intimate friendship blessed your house? Are you a friend of the Lord’s?
As we read last week, Jesus said to His disciples…
I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
To be a friend of God, you have to believe in the One He sent. And if you’re a friend of Jesus then you are a friend of God.