The Company You Keep

“A good friend is…” We all probably have different ways of finishing this sentence.  As a Christian, I think the most important way to finish this sentence is “...someone who points us back to Jesus.”

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” - Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

I’m currently reading through the book of Job in my quiet time.  I’ve read this book many times, but this time around, I’m seeing it through different eyes.  Now granted, I’m only halfway through the book, but the conversation Job has with his friends is very eye-opening.

“My friends scoff at me
as I weep before God.
I wish that someone might argue for a man with God
just as anyone would for a friend.”
Job 16:20-21 (CSB)

To give a little backstory, Satan is before God in heaven, and God mentions Job by name, “Have you considered my servant Job…” (Job 1:8, & 2:3).  Satan tells God the only reason Job follows Him [God] is because God has blessed him [Job].  God then allows Satan to do anything he wishes to Job other than take his life, and Satan is more than happy to oblige.  He proceeds to take all of Job’s wealth, possessions, children, and even his health.  Even Job’s wife is recorded as saying, “Just curse God and die…” (Job 2:9), but the Bible tells us that even in Job’s pain, loss, and grief, he does not sin against Him.  Job’s three friends hear about Job’s calamity and come to offer support, or at least their version of support.

“Indeed, you have instructed many
and have strengthened weak hands.
Your words have steadied the one who was stumbling
and braced the knees that were buckling.
But now that this has happened to you,
you have become exhausted.
It strikes you, and you are dismayed.”
Job 4:3-5 (CSB)

“But if you earnestly seek God
and ask the Almighty for mercy,
 if you are pure and upright,
then he will move even now on your behalf
and restore the home where your righteousness dwells.”
Job 8:5-6 (CSB)

“As for you, if you redirect your heart
and spread out your hands to him in prayer—
if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it,
and don’t allow injustice to dwell in your tents—
then you will hold your head high, free from fault.
You will be firmly established and unafraid.”
Job 11:13-15 (CSB)

All three of Job’s friends think Job has done something WRONG to experience all this pain and loss.  However, if we go back to Job 1:8, it’s not because of what Job has done wrong but because of what he has done RIGHT!  All Job’s friends have to offer him is to repent of his wickedness and turn back to God, but this is an earthly/human perspective. Job has a very different perspective (Job 21:7-19) and is confident that he is walking before God with integrity (Job 23:10-12 CSB):

“Yet he knows the way I have taken;
when he has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.
My feet have followed in his tracks;
I have kept to his way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commands from his lips;
I have treasured the words from his mouth
more than my daily food.”

He even talks about the test that God puts man through, not recognizing this was HIS [Job’s] test!  Job didn’t ask for his friends to come visit. I’m sure, they had good intentions and wanted to help, but they were not actually helping the situation.  They just kept pointing fingers at Job and making accusations.  I haven’t read anywhere in Job yet where they actually comfort him and point him back to God for comfort and peace in the middle of a storm.

From this, we can learn an important lesson. We must be careful who we surround ourselves with!  I’m not talking about acquaintances or our arms-length friends, but our BFFs, the ones we call when we are having a bad day or have incredible news, the ones we do life with. These friends should point us back to Jesus: “What is God speaking to you about this situation?”, “Have you spent time with God today?”, “Have you prayed about this decision?”.  

Dan Peña makes the statement, “Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future.”  Your friends don’t have to be or make everything super-spiritual; but if they don’t encourage and challenge you in your walk with God, I would ask God for friends that will.  I can’t imagine walking through Job’s trial and not having at least ONE person come alongside and help me walk through it.  Even Job’s wife basically said, “Enough is enough!” He didn’t have any support, even from his helpmate!

“Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble.”
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)

“How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams[a]
that bears its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.”
PSALM 1:1-3 (CSB)

JOURNAL:  Evaluate your inner circle.  Who do you talk to or hang out with the most?  Are they sharpening you in your relationship with God?  Do they feed your unhealthy emotions and thought processes?  Who do you need to proceed with caution and who do you need to spend more time with?  Who is someone in your life that you admire and aspire to have a relationship with God like they do?

You may be saying to yourself right now, “That’s all nice and good, but how do I find those friends?” My answer would be to consider joining a Small Group. We have Small Groups that meet year-round, in all shapes and sizes!  Small Groups are where you find connection with people who will hold your hands up when you can’t hold them up yourself, and it provides an opportunity for you to hold someone else’s hands up when they can’t do it themselves. Find out more about Small Groups by clicking the link below and join one today!

PRAYER:  God, while I don’t understand the tests and trials that I have to walk through, thank You for the strength, grace, and courage to keep walking.  Help me recognize the friends that I need to surround myself with and establish appropriate boundaries with the ones I need to keep at a distance.  Help me be the friend I need to be to those around me.  Thank You for surrounding me with the people I need.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!
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1 Comment

Liz Mitchell - March 13th, 2024 at 6:53am

Growing up My dad always said to follow whats in your heart. Well I did, then came adulthood. Friends then said you care too much. I worked in healthcare for 40 years and I always took extra time with each patient to listen and try to feel what was in their heart. This was all before joining Opendoor. My path led me to this amazing church and the friends I have met on my journey of christianity and my old friends are now understanding , respecting and seeking me out when they need too. I should say that I know when they need help before they tell me. Godly connections are the best connections.