Friends Matter

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Proverbs 1:10

I grew up in a church where I met most of my friends and most of the people I knew were from there. One would like to think that every one of these kids would be “good” kids who you would not mind your kids hanging out with, but that was not the case. I guess in most instances, we started out not getting into too much trouble, but the Bible says, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” You could see some were bound for trouble, and I am sure some would say I was one of those kids. I had parents who fought the devil over me, prayed for me, kept me in church, and encouraged me to read God’s Word, although I sometimes just went through the motions. I did not understand a lot of what I read, but I did not dig deep and try to learn either. I thought of other things during the preaching, but I was exposed to the truth and there were times when my deaf ear was opened and I became uneasy as God worked on my heart.

I grew up with a friend who was two years older than me and someone I looked up to. He was from a broken home although his mom had remarried and his step dad was active in the church. I saw him go to camp and make spiritual decisions, and I saw him take stand for God. I was not all the way in like he was, but I respected his walk with God and I did my best to act right when I was around him. I did not want to be the one drawing him away, and I was intrigued by his testimony and his desire to do right. He graduated and we somewhat grew apart, but we would still see each other at church and share hellos. He drifted away a little bit from the Lord, but he was still active in church. We became best friends when I was a senior in high school, and we spent a lot of time together hanging out and doing dumb stuff. He later met a girl that summer, and he naturally grew closer to her while leaving me and wanting to go further with his new-found love interest.

I was jealous of this at first, but I started to hang out with his little brother who was four years younger than I. His little brother looked up to me, and I was sort of a mentor to him. He lived with us for the entire summer, but then went to live with his aunt for the start of the school year. I tried to teach him the ropes but I was not always a good role model for him. We became close friends and he became like a little brother to me. I moved to Chicago in the late fall of the same year, and we kept in touch via (postal) mail and phone calls. He started to get into trouble and even ended up in juvenile hall. He came out to meet me in Chicago the following summer, and I could tell he had started to change. He was no longer this “innocent” young man, but he was starting to get hardened by the sin and troubles of this world. His friends were not the best, and he was a young man unto himself. His life was taking a different direction than I wanted to go, but I still wanted to be a good friend to him and try to help him.

We attend a party we should not have been at, and he got into it and I found myself in the middle of a fight. I would not leave him out to dry, but I ended up getting shot at because of it, and I knew I could no longer hang out with him. I knew I may not be so fortunate the next time, and I realized he had gone too far for me to continue to hang out with him. I could not be a good friend to him as I spoiled my chance, and he certainly was not a good friend for me. I found this hard to do because I loved him like a brother, but I loved my life more than the idea of being loyal. He ended up doing several stints in the “state-funded vacation program”, and I have lost contact with him. I knew I was at a crossroads with him, and I realized I would have to make the right decision and go my separate way.

The passage is Solomon’s warning to his son to stay away from those who would entice you to sin. Those who would get you into situations that you would never imagine yourself in, but slowly and surely you would find yourself in a sin-pickle you would not be able to get out of. Solomon had brothers and knew firsthand the trouble and evil they were part of. He knew the pack of friends who would pull his son down to destruction. We often think friends do not matter much, but we must take the wisdom of God’s word through Solomon, and be careful of whom we call our friends and those with whom we spend our time. I am grateful to God for the friends He has given me in life, and I find myself to be a wealthy man because of it.

Who are you hanging out with? Are you playing with fire? Are you spending time with those who are enticing you to sin? We attract what we are, not what we want, so if you have bad friends, you must evaluate yourself and see yourself for who you truly are. We all have people we influence, so may we entice people to do right and not entice them to sin. Every moment with those relationships God entrusts us with are of great importance. May we have friends and be a friend that God would be pleased with.

Stay in the Fight!

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