Solomon said, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (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: Bad company ruins good morals" (1 Corinthians 15:33). 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?
Strong friendships are like muscles - they must be developed. Therefore, if you want to make friends, you must take an interest in others and share and communicate with them. As Paul said, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests 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, MUSTshow himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24, KJV).
A friend should be a blessing, which is why the apostle 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 when he "strengthened his hand in God" (1 Samuel 23:16).
One of the greatest ways to make and keep friends is to say kind things about them just as Jonathan did when he "spoke well 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 or speak negatively of others, you will not be able to trust friends for fear they will speak ill of you just as you have of them.
Therefore, friendships are made and maintained through sharing, blessing, respecting, and trusting. You must invest time and energy, but it is worth it. Who can put a price tag on a well-made friendship?
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 … your friend ... entices you secretly ... you shall not yield to him or listen to him … but you shall 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. And yet as radical as it seems, it may be best if you never talk again with someone who is pushing you toward 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 brings many new 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 wherejealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice" (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 enslaves you. That is why Solomon said, "Envy makes the bones rot" (Proverbs 14:30).
Don’t be a Fragile Fred:
If all goes well, you’re there. If it gets rough, you bail. Yet Solomon said, "A friend loves 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 to the end" (John 13:1).
The Lord Jesus gave the tests of true friendship.
The Test of Cost:
Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). How much would you sacrifice for the good of this person?
The Test of Communication:
Jesus said, "You are My friends if you do what 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?
The Test of Confidence:
Jesus said, "I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). What would you not be able to share with this person?
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 relationship will depend heavily on the type of friendship you develop.
So now, you are in control of your friendships, and the choices are yours with the friendships you form.