Friends will lift you up or drag you down

Artist's depiction of Solomon's court (Ingobertus, c. 880)

Kathee and I are reading in 1 Kings and last week we came across this familiar passage:

1 Kings 11:1 & 4 "But king Solomon loved many strange women ... his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father"

This passage illustrates the truth that friends can either lift one up spiritually or drag one down. Solomon's multiple pagan wives "turned away [Solomon's] heart after other gods". Since God desires our fellowship and commands us to be wholehearted, it is incumbent upon every believer to carefully evaluate one's relationships: friendships and dating relationships (a 'more than friendship').

I am blessed to have my spouse of 32 years as my sole-mate and best friend. Kathee is a deeply spiritual person who loves the Lord. She encourages me in my Christian walk, and I endeavor to encourage her as well.

Obviously we cannot move to a commune or live alone in the desert. God wants us to interact with all kinds of people, even some who are ungodly. I see this in the great commission (Matthew 28:19, "in your going, make disciples").

Note the phrase "since then you would need to go out of the world" in the following passage:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11, "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person."

God does not want his children to be hermits!

There are some relationships that are more entangling than others. Dating and marriage would fall into this category. The one whom one marries will be first one whom one dates. Marriage is a committed relationship ('til death do us part') that should not be entered into lightly or parted without death or the scriptural cause (eg. abandonment, abuse, or adultery). I believe that God's warning of 2 Corinthians 6:14 ("Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?") addresses at the very least, the marriage relationship. Thus it is important that the Christian who is contemplating marriage be careful about the dating relationship.

The Apostle Paul has addition instructions about friendships:

1 Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”"

Back to my original premise: "Friends will lift you up or drag you down". In evaluating relationships, these questions may be helpful:

  1. Does ______ evidence personal faith in Christ?
  2. Does ______ encourage me in my walk with Christ?
  3. Does ______ encourage me in my Church attendance?
  4. Does ______ encourage me in my devotional time with God (Scripture reading and prayer)?

Hopefully this is helpful. As always, I invite comments!

Comment: The graphic is from Solomon

More on Christian friendship

  1. I have coffee about once a month with Larry N - a fellow Wells Fargo employee. Larry works in a completely different department. I only see him when we have coffee. He is a member of Berean Baptist Ch in Lakeville, MN. He ministers to me and I appreciate him.
  2. Saturday I had coffee with Terry Lange of Thoughts and Opinions fame (fellow member of 4th Baptist & seminarian)
  3. Saturday night we had a family by for dinner - Ralph & Karla H. What a ministry they had to us: sharing about the mission field, God's provision for them when their daughter was dying of cancer. We also had a fun time playing pool (with their two daughters .. one is very good (at pool) and the other ... NOT!))
  4. I share these comments because my experience is that one must purpose to have Christian fellowship. It just does not happen. It does not happen lined up horizontally in pews!

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