Do you know who you are? More importantly, do you know whose you are? Paul wrote in Romans 8:14 that all those led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God. Only Jesus Christ defines who we are. Our identity was carved out at the foot of the cross by our loving Savior. He has scars on his hands to prove His love for us. We are a chosen people (I Peter 2:9, ESV).
Once we figure out whose we are, the Holy Spirit begins to form our character and shape us into the image of whom we were created to be like, Jesus Christ. We may need new friends when our character changes since bad company ruins good morals (I Cor. 15:33, ESV).
It matters whom we hang out with, whom we cultivate friendships with, and whom we forge partnerships with. Our close-knit friends influence who we are, whether we realize it or not. Jesus ate with and socialized with those with questionable character, but He also had an inner circle of close friends. Peter, James, and John were among them, as were Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
It matters whom we follow. Anyone can pin on a tin star and pretend to lead us in the right direction. But a genuine leader will shine from within. We can recognize them by their Jesus qualities and character.
We are called to love everyone and cast a wide net to be “fishers for men” (Matt. 4:19, ESV). We are to share the Good News about Jesus Christ with those we meet, especially the lost and sometimes undesirable characters, but at the end of the day, we still need that one person or group of friends who we know has our back, holds us accountable, and whose character will not change with the culture; rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17, ESV). Trustworthy enough to keep us sharp (Prov. 27:17, EV). Someone who won’t take offense when we speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, ESV). Someone who will pray with us and for us.
We may not have too many friends like that, if at all. The challenge is intentionally building those kinds of relationships and sticking them out when it gets complicated. Because it will; relationships are messy, and people are complex. Remember- you always have a friend in Jesus (John 15:15, ESV). He is an actual model to adore and learn from. If we keep Him close and imitate His actions, soon we will be more like the friend(s) we look for. We must first be trustworthy people to attract faithful friends.
For further reading: Gal. 6:2, Prov. 18:24, Prov. 13:20, Eccl. 4:9-12, Heb. 10:24, James 5:19, I John 1:7, 2 Cor. 6:14.