Friends Define You
As much as we pride ourselves on being, “strong and independent,” in this modern era our friends often helplessly define us.
Back in high school the clothes I wore was often dependent upon the people that I was around. When I was into riding mountain bikes I wore clothes from that industry and spoke the language that they used. The same when I played football or competed on the swim team. The people and environment that I was in often dictated what I said, what I wore, and how I acted.
It is important for us to understand that we were created to be in relationships. God saw that in Adam in the very beginning and so he made Eve. (Genesis 2) We flourish when we are in community with others but it is important for us to remember that those around us are the ones who will ultimately define us. Proverbs 13:20 states, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Joining a group of wise individuals is likely to make you wise. On the other side as well: joining a group of fools will likely make you foolish.
Augustine realized this many years ago:
“Alone I would not have committed that crime, in which my pleasure lay not in what I was stealing but in the act of theft. But had I been alone, it would have given me absolutely no pleasure, nor would I have committed it. Friendship can be a dangerous enemy, a seduction of the mind lying beyond the reach of investigation. Out of a game and a jest come an avid desire to injury and an appetite to inflict loss on someone else without any motive on my part of personal gain, and no pleasure in settling a score. As soon as the words are spoken, ‘Let us go and do it,’ on is ashamed not to be shameless.”
We are not as powerful as we think. We are very easily influenced in many different ways. The good news is that it is okay. Just because we are easily influenced does not make our humanity bad. Instead we must simply watch who we allow to influence us.
Parents often see their kids act out of character when they get around a certain group of kids. I have never been short on parents wanting their teenagers to find the right group of friends who will be a benefit for their crucial years in high school so that the wrong crowd will not lead them down foolish paths.
Instead of being disturbed that we are so molded by our context of people, lets be sure to find the environment of people that will help define us in a beneficial and Christ-centered way. I guess a practical way of doing this would be to simply make some friends at church who truly desire Jesus. Let that statement sink in. Don’t just make friends at church who like and do all the same things you do. Make friendships within the church with people who truly desire Jesus. Read the Word and follow the lifestyle of Jesus and begin looking for someone who is truly pouring out their life for His fame. Seek them out and grow in friendship. These friendships will define us and in turn encourage us to pursue our faith in ways that would never happen without them.
Let your friends, the right friends, define you.
Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls. Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world. And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.
Augustine. “Confessions” Oxford University Press. 2008. Pg 34