Caution in Friendship

Young woman holding a caution sign
Our topic this month is relationships.  I was immediately reminded of Proverbs 12:26: A righteous man is cautious in friendships, but the way of the wicked leads them astray (NIV, 1984).  I typed out a story I wanted to share and sent it off to our wonderful editor, Janna.  She researched the verse, as did I, and we both discovered that different translations can be perceived quite differently.  If you have time, take a look at this verse from a few different translations.  If I am hearing the voice of the Lord clearly, I believe He is ultimately saying, we should choose our company carefully, because that’s who will influence us, and that’s not always a good thing.
I once become quick friends with someone (this was years ago) and ended up immediately running the other way. Oh boy, she was involved with some intense stuff. After a very short period of time, I realized our hearts were in different places and I really felt the Lord telling me to back away.  I know you must be thinking it was my responsibility as a Christian to love her and help her through her intense stuff.  Well, yes, I did pray for her, but I know in my spirit that ultimately I was not cautious in my friendships and that I would be in trouble if I stayed closely connected with her.  Her issues were very unhealthy for me.  Although I was not engaged with those issues, I found them very familiar in a subtle sort of way.
Now, many years later, I know I heard the Lord correctly.  My sweet friend continued to dance with unhealthy situations and I know deep down that my place, at that time, was deep prayer for her, not deep friendship with her.
First Corinthians 15:33: Do not be mislead: bad company corrupts good character. The Lord wants us to know that not everyone is good company for us.  There could be various reasons for this. Maybe we just aren’t strong enough spiritually to discern unrighteous situations or strong enough to take a spiritual stance.  But don’t let this discourage you.  As we seek the Lord, he begins to show us his heart and as we read the word we grow stronger in our faith and what one day may seen difficult to stand up against will not always be the case.
I am not the same person I was back then (praise God!) He has worked stuff out of me, cleaned stuff up, and blessed me with some incredible friends who challenged me in the right ways.  They’ve held me accountable with Godly love and biblical direction.   Their righteous lives have been invaluable to me. We are always called to love and pray but there are times, for our own spiritual well being that we do this from afar.  Does that sound harsh?  In Matthew 10:14 Jesus tells us there are times to leave people even to the extent that we shake the dust off our sandals, taking nothing with us, not even the dust.
I love having friends.  My heart is continuously open for friendships. It’s just a part of my make-up.  I remind myself sometimes of the book by Dr. Suess, Are You My Mother, but instead I am the one walking around asking, “Are you my friend?” But I’ve learned to listen to the Lord and love people for the Kingdom of God according to the Word of God, because God always has our best interest at heart, as well as the other person’s.  I know the Lord loves this distance friend of mine and His direction had her best interest at heart as well as mine. 

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