“As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
You recognize the experience—a friendship where after a time you realize the other person is rubbing off on you and it’s not favorable. All starts out well, perhaps you met each other in church, you enjoy fellowship together, or better yet, both families get along. But then behaviors creep in and with time you notice actions that don’t line up with Biblical standards. You try to ignore it, because after all, it’s so much fun being with her and we all need some fun now and then. Continually you feel your conscience pricked, and ultimately you can no longer ignore the fact this friendship is unequally yoked.
Rather than iron sharpening iron, you’re like two rubber erasers becoming gummy, mealy, and rubbed off into nothing.
You don’t want to cave in to the potential trap of being critical and judgmental, but at the same time, their behavior strays and you’re questioning their ethics or morals. Friendship is precious and it’s vital to carefully choose those with whom we spend our free time. We desire relationships where each person sharpens and fine-tunes the other bringing out the best. As we hone our “edges,” we become more authentic and fruitful.
Many factors characterize a true friendship, but three stand out. To begin with, as a Christian, it’s important to choose friends with high moral beliefs. Secondly, is she a grateful and encouraging person? And finally, do we motivate each other further spiritually?
First, scripture is clear about relationships with people who lack moral integrity, as they may drag you down with them. Ephesians 5:5-7 (NIV) explicitly states, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a [woman] is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you … Therefore do not be partners with them.” When we find ourselves compromising our beliefs or observing actions not adhering to our value system, it’s time to move on. Listen to that still small voice.
Next, we find the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Our Lord has blessed me with several grateful friends where we encourage one another and regularly thank each other for helpful things we do. It’s refreshing. It’s uplifting. And, it keeps me going.
Lastly, years ago I had the privilege of teaching, along with co-writing the curriculum for, an ESL (English as a Second Language) Bible study with a good friend. Collaborating as we did energized and propelled us on, and we continually challenged each other to grow spiritually and to move forward in our walk with the Lord. Strong friendships take into account the exhortation, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)
We have choices concerning the friends with whom we surround ourselves. When we have a friend or friends who diminish rather than polish us, we find ourselves also rubbed away by the influences of this world. Is the company I’m keeping sharpening me? Am I sharpening those around me?
Father God, I submit my friendships to you and ask for your help in being a true friend to others. Teach me to be a woman who sharpens those around me through my values, thankfulness, and inspiration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Proverbs 13:20 (NIV): “[She] who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Proverbs 18:24 (NLT): “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friends sticks closer than a [sister].”
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
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