As human beings, we were created to form relationships with others, so it should come as no surprise that we all want to be liked and accepted. We feel better about ourselves when others respect us and seek out our company. It is unfortunate that we all begin life as selfish, prideful people, wishing the world would revolve around us—what we want and need, what we think is right, and what we hope will happen. Some people crave approval from others so much that they’re willing to do anything to get it.
Life is not always black and white it is full of gray areas. Areas where individuals make choices and then biblical defend, no matter which side of an issue they may land. While true that we stumble under the massive pressures of life, it is also true that we are led astray by our own, wicked, rebellious hearts which is why we need a real friend. Now, here’s an uncomfortable thought: A genuine friend will restrain or correct you at times. Not only does a biblical friend hold you up when you stumble, but that friend also holds you down when you stray. The Holy Spirit is that type of friend! He never makes mistakes judging others’ character, and he knows the intent of people’s hearts even when they don’t speak a word. He only wants the best for us, and he’s always ready to steer us away from potential trouble if we will only let him.
While technically you feel the freedom to indulge in a particular pleasure or activity, permission alone should not be the final determinant in your decision-making process. Solomon said, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” Proverbs 20:1. It can be tempting to gravitate toward people that have toxic ways of thinking. “Do not be misled: ‘bad company corrupts good character’” 1 Corinthians 15:33. Others’ mindsets are contagious, for good or bad, and they can color our thinking. Sometimes it’s hard to discern who we should avoid, and who we should gravitate towards and the pressure to fit in makes it worse.
Consider this, real friends are gifts from God, and he blesses us with them as one way of showing his love for us. They’re honest with us, and we can be ourselves with them, knowing they’ll accept us even at our worst. When we make a mistake, they point it out to us, but they do it in love. Relationships in which we encourage and build each other up are robust and healthy. “Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Relying on our judgment in this area can leave us open to and vulnerable to making too many mistakes. “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” Proverbs 18:24. Trusting God to lead us to the right people, the ones who care for us in good times and bad, puts us in a win-win situation. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” Proverbs 27:17. Friends sent from God keep help to keep us on the right path in life.