Friends are a great blessing from God. The Bible says: “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17), and that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Good friends are not only great to be around, but they can also help us to be better people. For instance, have you ever noticed how being around friends who do what is right, who are honest, and who respect others, causes you to want to do what is right, be honest, and respect others? The apostle Paul wrote: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” (Romans 14:7). His point was that people around us have an effect on us, and we have an effect on them.
But if friends who act right can encourage us to want to act right, what might friends who act wrong cause us to do? Have you ever done something wrong because you were with someone else who was doing something wrong? It is easier to do something wrong, it seems, if others around us do something wrong. Moses warned the Israelites about this very thing. “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). Moses wanted them to realize that being around people who “do evil” can influence us to do things that are wrong, too.
We know that Solomon asked God for wisdom and it was granted to him. 1 Kings 4:31 says that Solomon was wiser than all other men. In spite of this, he allowed himself to be influenced by the ungodly. God warned His people about becoming friends with, or marrying, people who “did evil.” He told the king: “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). But Solomon did not listen. He made friends with evil people, and even married their women. Sadly, the Bible says that Solomon’s “wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).
Paul told first-century Christians: “Be not deceived. Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The New King James Version puts it like this: “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” It certainly does! Solomon learned the hard way. Today, we need to remember that the company we keep can affect how we act. Let it never be said of us that “evil company” ruined our “good habits.”
The bible is chock full of advice regarding those we associate with: 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 - Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Proverbs 1:11-16 - If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their path for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
Proverbs 13:20 - Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Psalm 26:4-5 - I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
Proverbs 16:29 - A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 - It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
Proverbs 22:24 - Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.
When considering someone to be a friend, are they an encourager or a discourager? Are they lazy or industrious? Are they selfish, or are they willing to lend a helping hand to those in need? Are they kind or mean spirited? Do they love God or are they indifferent to His word and His commandments?
Who we are friends with WILL have a significant effect on us and our walk with God. It is especially important for those in their “formative” years. But make no mistake - there is no age limit on peer pressure. We must all be vigilant in who we choose to befriend.