Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
I haven’t given that much thought. You haven’t given what much thought? I haven’t given my friends much thought. What do you mean by saying that? I haven’t actually evaluated the character of my friends. I haven’t considered the positive or negative impact a friend might have in my life. Doesn’t that seem a little odd to you? Can’t you recall the positive or negative impact a friend has had in your life? I can recall things that my friends have said or done. I can remember having liked or disliked things that my friends have said or done. But beyond that it has been rare for me to reach a conclusion on the positive or negative impact friends have had on my life. What would you think if I were to say that you will become like your closest and most intimate friends? I would say that it is critically important for me to evaluate the character of my friends. If I would not want to become like one of my friends, then maybe it is better for them to not be my friends. I would rather have my friends encourage good and godly character in me than to discourage me in my desire to live a life that is good and right and pleasing to you. I want my friends to spur me on as I love and follow and serve you. I want to spur my friends on in their desire to love and follow and serve you. That is very good.
There is an important distinction to make. What’s that? I want you to be friendly and to befriend others. I want you to love and minister to all people. I want you to express care and compassion and kindness and love to everyone you encounter in life. You are to welcome the stranger. You are to love the unlovable. You are to feed the hungry and cloth the needy. You will be my hands and feet in this world. Do you understand? Yes, I understand. No one is beyond your reach. No one is unworthy of your kindness, mercy and love. You want me to become like you. Yes, I do. So, how do these thoughts relate to those people you allow into your inner circle to become your intimate friends? I am to love and minster to everyone. I am also to be very careful in choosing my close and intimate friends. That is correct. I should choose friends of good and godly character who will spur me on in my faith. My close friends should encourage my character in ways that will cause to think and speak and act in ways that are good and right and pleasing to you. But I will also love and minster to all. No one will be beyond my kindness, mercy and love. That is right. That is good. That is true.
Lord, I have not always been wise about who I allowed into my circle of friends. I have had friends who caused me to think, speak and act in ways that were not pleasing to you. Bring good and godly friends into my life. Use good friends to develop my character. Amen
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