Friendships don’t just happen. No one forces his way in or refuses to leave. You are not a victim of peer pressure. You make choices and are responsible for the people in your life and the influence they have on you.
Solomon said, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). If you want to be drug-free, don’t spend time with people who do drugs. If you want to make your life count for God, choose to spend time with people who share your goals and pursuits. Even the great apostle Paul said, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV). He knew the value of positive peer pressure in his life, so he surrounded himself with fellow-workers, fellow-prisoners, and fellow-soldiers (Philemon 2, 23, 24). And you? What type of friends have you chosen?
Friendships are like rolls of film – they must be developed through communication and sharing. Therefore, if you want to make friends, you must take an interest in others and share with them. As Paul said, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). So, don’t wait for people to make friends with you. Go seek them out by asking people questions and by taking a genuine interest in others. God says, “He that hath friends, MUST show himself friendly” (Pro 18:24).
A friend should be a blessing, which is why John could hardly forgive himself for his influence on Peter. He is the only gospel writer to include that he “brought Peter in” to the room where Peter denied the Lord Jesus. So are you happy with the kind of influence you are having on others? Paul said, “Be ye imitators of me.” Could you say that to your peers? Therefore, make friends by seeking every way possible to be a spiritual blessing just as Jonathan was to David. He “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
One of the greatest ways to make and keep friends is to speak well of them. Jonathan “spake good of David” (1 Samuel 19:4). Many never enjoy friendships because they freely broadcast the faults and failures of others. Trust and respect cement a friendship, but gossip dissolves it. If you gossip, you cannot trust others for fear they will speak ill of you as you have of them.
Therefore, friends are made and maintained through sharing, blessing, respecting, and trusting. You must invest time and energy, but who can put a price tag on a well-made friend?
Not all friendships are Biblical and beneficial. For example, Pilate and Herod became friends, being united in the evil goal of destroying Jesus. So, if you have a friend who is influencing you negatively, you must act radically. Under the law, “If thy friend . . . entice thee secretly . . . thou shalt not consent . . . but thou shalt surely kill him” (Deuteronomy 13:6-9). In other words, you must terminate the relationship to avoid the peer pressure. Now don’t plan to stone someone for drawing you toward sin. However, it is far better if you never talk again with someone who is pushing you toward the world, alcohol, drugs, or any other error or sin.
Don’t be a Gimme Jimmy: Are you the kind of friend who is there as long as you are “getting something?” The Bible warns, “Wealth maketh many friends” (Proverbs 19:4). The prodigal son in Luke 15 had many friends when he had money, but none when he needed it. These types of friendships are conditional. When the giving stops, the friendship is history and you move on to someone else. This using of people for personal interests is far from Biblical friendship.
Don’t be a Jealous Jane: Socrates once said, “Envy is the ulcer of the soul.” So, do you get angry if your friend spends time with someone else? James said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Jealousy is a selfish insecurity (Galatians 5:21), a fear of being alone that makes you dependent on another. If you need your friends to feel comfortable, secure, or happy, you are not a true friend. Jealousy seeks to control them, but secretly it is enslaves you. That is why Solomon said, “Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30).
Don’t be a Fragile Fred: If all goes well, you’re there. If it gets rough, you bail. Yet the wise man said, “A friend loveth at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). His father, King David, made an agreement of faithfulness with Jonathan and they kept it when they were together or apart, happy or sad, blessed or burdened. A true friend will share in success, be true in trial, and faithful in failure. How touching that the Lord Jesus maintained an unwavering commitment to the disciples who forsook Him. “He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).
Be a True-Blue Lou: The Lord Jesus gave the tests of true friendship.
1. The Test of Cost: Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). How much would you sacrifice for the good of this person?
2. The Test of Communication: Jesus said, “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). How much do you talk with this person and how willing would you be to do something they ask?
3. The Test of Confidence: Jesus said, “I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). What would you not be able to share with this person?
So what type of a friend are you?
Friendships are critical for teens. Developing skills now for choosing, making, dropping, and being friends will serve you for life. They will even prepare you for the most important earthly friend you will ever have – your spouse. The quality of your marriage will depend on the type of friendship you develop.
So now, you are in control of your friendships, and the challenge and choice are yours with the friends that you make.