Everyone has friends of some kind. Some have many friends while others have few. Some have good friends while others have bad friends. All people, especially Christians, need to stop and consider the importance of friends and the impact those friends have on one's life.
Since man was created a social being (Gen. 2:18), he needs the close association of others. As humans, we cannot live happy or meaningful lives to ourselves. We need to be with other people. Romans 14:7 states, "For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself."
We need the love our friends have for us. Life is more pleasant when we have those who care about us and our welfare. We need to know there are those who love us no matter what may come our way or theirs. "A friend loves at all times" (Prov. 17:17).
Friends satisfy many needs -- the need for someone to share our joy and happiness (Rom. 12:15); the need for someone to cheer us in times of sadness (Prov. 27:9); and the need to help us relax and recreate from the routine and pressures of life. Actually, there are an infinite number of reasons why we need friends.
The dictionary defines a friend as "a person who has a real liking for and confidence in another person." W.E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of NT Words, says it is one who is "loved, dear."
The term "friendship" is found only once in the New Testament (Jas. 4:4). It comes from the Greek word philia which is akin to philos which is translated "love." Vine suggests it includes the idea of "loving as well as being loved."
The Bible contains examples of friendship which illustrate this idea. Its most classic example is that of the friendship of David and Jonathan. "Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (1 Sam. 18:1). Their love for and confidence in one another is a lesson all who would be and have friends should learn. The apostle Paul and Timothy developed a liking for and a confidence in one another. "I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also" (2 Tim. 1:3-5).
Friendship means the same today. Our close friends are those whom we love and are dear to us. They are those in whom we have confidence that they hold us dear.
Sadly, some whom we think are our friends are not good friends. For one to be a good friend he must not only be good to us but also good for us. We need to be careful in choosing only those friends that are good for us. We must not choose a friend like Jonadab who led his friend Amnon, David's son, astray (2 Sam. 13:1-14).
In order to choose friends wisely, there are certain principles we must employ. We must begin by applying the principle stated by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33 -- "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'"
We must then realize it is better to have a few friends, even just one, who will be the right kind of friends than a multitude of the kind who could cause us to lose our souls (Matt. 16:26).
We must choose friends who will be good examples to us and others. In that light, choose friends who:
We must select as friends those who respect God and things spiritual -- those who regard spiritual things as more important than material things. We must not be deceived into thinking that we can choose otherwise and not be affected.
Friends are priceless. "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). No amount of money could be enough to replace true friends. We can rejoice in their faithfulness and delight in being around them. We should thank God daily for the friends that we have and pray that the day will never come when we do not have friends.
When it comes to choosing friends, let us all be friends of Jesus (John 15:14).