Just like me?
By Mark Lubbock
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
––1 Corinthians 15:33
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
When we speak of best friends, I’ve encountered some confusing and inconsistent images.
For example, a Christian man told me that his “best friend” was a woman––not his wife––but a long-time friend from before he was married.
Really? “Oh,” he says, “my wife is perfectly OK with this––she knows it is only friendship.” The implication, of course, is that since his wife does not complain, she is OK with the relationship. I don’t know his wife and cannot comment on how she feels, but I do know that most women deep down would not enjoy having their husband spend time with another woman in this manner.
Let’s look in on another man’s friends.
I was invited to join an acquaintance for an afternoon with his friends. It was a casual gathering with snacks and beverages while a game was playing on the TV. What immediately caught my attention was the manner in which these men spoke. They jokingly demeaned women, frequently cursed, told filthy jokes, and laughed at how one man got a “good deal” which in fact involved lying and cheating a seller.
To say the very least, I was stunned by the nature of the conversations. When there was a short pause in the repartee, I asked in a friendly way if each man had a church home. Knowing I was a pastor, the men were quick to reply. All but one shared the name of the church they attended, the latter said he left the church because of all of the hypocrites.
I asked a follow-up question, “When did you become a Christian?” The men responded easily; each one gave the age at which he formally became a Christian. Every man––even the fellow who left church––reported a time when he made a decision for Christ.
All of the men claimed to be long-time Christians, but not one of them behaved like Jesus. They criticized others without mercy, showed little compassion for or consideration of certain groups of folks. To my eye, they looked like unchurched persons.
How could they behave in such a worldly manner after they had confessed they were sinners who accepted the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and promised to be followers of Christ?
The answer was right in front of me. It is the fellowship they keep. Rather than spending time with men who are sold-out for Jesus, who actively seek to learn the Word and live it out in their daily lives, they spend time with men who do the opposite.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “The conventional wisdom is that we choose friends because of who they are. But it turns out that we actually love them because of the way they support who we are.”
In other words, we choose friends who help us stay right where we are in our spiritual life, blocking further progress!
Scripture offers a better way.
Proverbs 13:20 states: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
This passage warns us about spending time with fools, but, more importantly, it promises personal growth when we choose to associate with the wise!
I regularly challenge myself with the question: “Do I look more like Christ today?”
To aid my quest, I intentionally surround myself with men who are traveling toward Jesus. They are not perfect, but they have desire to grow in Christ.
Men who travel in another direction, or who are content to stay stuck where they are, are not members of my circle of close friends. I’m friendly towards all, but I do not spend my time with all. Of course, I mentor men who are rough around the edges, but they are men who want to grow in Christ.
How about you?
Would you be honored to have Jesus listen to the conversations you have with your friends?
Do your friend’s values reflect the world, or do they reflect the Word?
Do you have a best friend who knows the real you and likes you anyway?
Do you have a friend with whom you can be open and honest and one who is open and honest with you?
A sad note is, according to studies, many pastors do NOT have even one true Godly friend.
Having Godly friends takes work, prayer and investment, but it is worth it!
Why not stop now, investigate honestly where you are, and make a commitment to move forward TODAY?
I’m available to talk with you about how to do this if you find yourself stuck, or are trying but not getting the results you seek!
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men