Last week, we examined the most valuable education a child can receive, and for that matter, any one of us can receive is learning the “Holy Scriptures” (II Tim. 3:15). The facts are facts, though. The average child in this country will spend 1,000 hours per year in school. That’s a lot of hours that our children are being shaped by people — most notably, peers — other than parents and grandparents. Those young minds — so impressionable and still being molded — can be susceptible to negative influences. So, choose your friends wisely because your soul is important: “A true friend leads you toward Jesus, not away from Him.”
What makes a great friend? The Bible says a lot about friendship and how we should treat our friends.
Be open and caring: Sadly, some people are never friendly. They never open themselves up, nor care if you open up to them. But think about all the benefits of having friends. Eccl. 4:9-12 says there’s intimacy, the sharing of life, assistance, comfort and defense. We see a perfect example of that in Acts 2:41-47, where the early Christians helped one another. They gave to one another. They got into each other’s lives. Invite others into your life and get into the lives of others.
Be loyal and longsuffering: “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). True friends aren’t “fair weather” friends. We must be people of loyalty. In the story of David and Jonathan (I Sam. 20, 23), Jonathan was more concerned about his friend’s welfare and safety than gaining the kingdom, which he would have if David perished. That’s how powerful friendship can be. We know friends aren’t perfect. Sometimes they say the wrong things, or rub us the wrong way. But don’t write them off. Bear with them.
Be helpful and protective: There’s a saying that goes, “Flattery is like cotton candy — sweet, but not very nourishing.” We all like to hear compliments and praise. And there’s a time and a place for flattering words. But if all I’m receiving are flattering words, it’s not going to do me any good in the long run (Prov. 29:5). The prevailing thought in the world today is, If you’re my friend, you’re not going to judge me. But we need friends to point out our flaws and imperfections. And sometimes, the truth hurts. Paul says in Gal. 4:16, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” If that person points out your fault, and does so in love (Eph. 4:15), they are exactly what you need and should want — a true friend.