If you aren't better off after spending time with someone, then they aren't your friend. That or they are still a baby (spiritually speaking). This might be eye opening, and even hard to hear, but it's the truth.
A true friend will ALWAYS sharpen your countenance, your character, and your God given purpose. Friends leave you better off than how they found you. Friends sharpen you. Friends help you grow.
Friends make you better. Friends build you up. Friends encourage you. Friends hold you accountable to do the right thing, especially when it's going to be difficult. Friends don't let you give up. Friends will fight for you and for the most important parts of your life, especially your marriage, family, and other close relationships.
Before a blacksmith can begin reshaping or sharpening iron, there needs to be heat and then pressure. Once there is heat, they need to work quickly in order to shape the iron.
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If your friends don't do these things, that doesn't mean they still can't be your friends, but it does mean that they shouldn't be your CLOSEST friends and/or confidants. This doesn't mean that they can never be a close friend or confidant, but for now, they still need to grow and mature before they can be promoted to such a place in your life.
Psalms 1:1-3 says,
"Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper."
Who should we confide in? Who should we ask for counsel and for advice and wisdom? Would we ask our young children what to do in serious circumstances or in tough decisions? No, of course not! They don't have the necessary wisdom and they haven't proven themselves capable of dealing with such situations.
If we wouldn't trust our young children with such decisions, then why would we ask spiritual babies or the ungodly what to do concerning spiritual things!? Ask the Lord. Seek the Lord. Meditate on the Word. Ask advice from the spiritually mature in your life, those with a proven track record.
Galatians 6:1 says, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
The Amplified Bible says, "...you who are spiritual (who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit)..."
Do you feed a baby or does a baby prepare a meal and then feed you? Does a child pay your bills and make big life decisions, or does the adult? People can't give away what they don't already have for themselves. If they aren't wise in their life, then why would you seek wisdom from them for your own life?
All throughout my childhood and teenage years I played soccer. I enjoyed many sports, but soccer was easily my favorite. During my freshman year in high school I made the varsity team. I was small and had little to no muscle, especially in comparison to the juniors and seniors I was playing against. It was hard. It was tough. I got pushed around.
As a 9th grader, if I had given up and only played on junior varsity or the 9th grade JV2 team instead of varsity, I would've been one of the most skilled players on the field, but that wouldn't have helped me grow and get better. I got better and progressed more quickly by playing against more skilled players, guys that were older and stronger and faster than I was. The adversity and added pressure caused me to have to grow and increase in my own skill, strength, and speed.
The same goes in our personal lives and spiritual lives. If you're lacking wisdom or struggling in a certain area, then surround yourself with people who are successful in those areas, and gain wisdom from them! My two year old boy doesn't give me advice on how to coach soccer. I surround myself with mentors who have 20+ years of coaching experience. They can teach me some things about coaching and the game of soccer... My two year old can't!
Surround yourself with people of experience and wisdom. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow. Surround yourself with true friends. Surround yourself with people that point you to Jesus.
If you choose to live this way, I believe you will avoid a lot of trouble and heartache. Choose good friends, choose them wisely, and grow together. You won't regret it!
Until next time, shake the earth!