Recently I heard on the radio a topic about friendship. The host made the statement that we should intentionally choose good people for our friends, those people with solid character. If we have friends with good character, and they make us better through their friendship, then odds are we will be happier people.* His point: you don’t have to base friendship alone on social status, power, fun, or charm, instead think about goodness.
We need to be intentional in life, intentional with choices of how we care for our bodies and how we live our lives. Just as I need to be intentional in other areas of my life, I need to also be purposeful when making decisions on my friends. Here is something that the host recommended his listeners to ask themselves:
- Am I a better person because of so and so? Do they make me kinder, more generous, and joyful?
Think about that for a second. When was the last time you thought about the people you associate with on a daily basis?
Proverbs is filled with constant reminders to be mindful of who we consistently associate with. Here are just a few examples:
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge (Proverbs 14:7).
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25)
As you can see, it seems like the wisdom found in Proverbs guides people toward healthy friendships. But I can hear some think, what about Jesus?
It is true that Jesus met regularly with sinners. He did party with those who were hated, despised, or who were low in the social class system. But what was Jesus’ intention? May I suggest that perhaps Jesus wanted to make them whole? Perhaps he wanted to point them to the abundant life, found in following him. Maybe he was intentional with his friendships.
Like all things in life, I have discovered that I need to be intentional in cultivating good friendships that make me better. What do you think?
*When I mean happy, I am referring to making a conscious choice to not walk around as an Eeyore and inflict my bad mood on other people. Just as I don’t inflict my natural body odor on other people, for the sake of my fellow human beings, I wear deodorant and also will try not to take out my bad mood on everyone around me. For more see Dennis Prager’s Happiness is a Serious Problem and also this brief video.