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Gebedsbrief - 2024-07-15
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Monday Manna - 2024-07-15
  Monday Manna Archives

MONDAY MANNA

July 15, 2024

 

WE ARE THE AVERAGE OF OUR FIVE CLOSEST FRIENDS

 

By Jim Mathis

 

It has often been said that we are the average of our five closest friends. I do not know if actual data can back up this statement, but it seems to make sense.We tend to enjoy spending time most with people who are like us. Chances are our best friends have educations like ours and similar financial situations. Our friends probably like the same things and may share our religious or political views. 

 

We can look at it a different way: We can choose friends based on who we desire to become and what we want to know. If we want to learn more about football, we can develop friendships with those who know the game, go to games with them and ask questions. This applies to just about every area of life. We can literally define our lives by the friends we choose.

 

During many different times in my life, I have sought out groups of friends that I aspired to be like. I have joined the Chamber of Commerce, Bible study groups, and volunteer organizations because I wanted to be around, learn from, and ultimately become more like those people. Intelligence is contagious and if we want to be smarter, spend time with smart people. It can be that simple. 

 

The opposite also is true. Years ago, a guitar player friend often said, “Dumb is contagious.” He would say it in a joking matter, and everyone laughed, but he was serious. He usually said it right after someone said something totally ridiculous – and just before he got up and left. I took his advice and have avoided conversations with people who want to talk about current conspiracy theories or have little idea what they are talking about in general.

 

If we have chosen to marry, our most important friend should be our spouse. When people choose a marriage partner, they are setting the trajectory of their life. I might not have realized this 50 years ago when my wife and I got married, but it has certainly proved to be the case. Having the same aspirations and sharing the same values in life are far more important and enduring than external attraction.

 

The Bible has much to say about the kinds of people we associate with, their influence on our lives, and vice versa. Here is some of the wisdom about friendships we find in the Scriptures:

 

We should be selective in choosing friends. We might attract a few friends, but how many of them will care enough to invest time and energy in truly getting to know you? “A friend of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

 

We should seek friends with good character. The right friends lift us up, rather than bringing us down. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

 

We should avoid the influence of unprincipled people. To presume we can have positive impact on people with evil intentions usually proves to be futile. “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way” (Proverbs 4:14-15).

 

We should befriend people we can trust. We can find many people who will spend time with us when things are going well, but a true friend is one we can rely on for help, encouragement and support during difficult times. “A friend loves for all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

 

© 2024. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

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Reflection/Discussion Questions

 

1.     Who are your five closest friends? How long have you known them, and why do you think you were drawn to them?

 

 

 

 

2.     What are some of the interests and values you share with your closest friends?

 

 

 

 

3.     Can you think of a time you intentionally chose to end a friendship, or decided not to pursue someone as a friend? If so, what were your reasons? What do you think would have been the result if you had maintained that friendship?

 

 

 

 

4.     In John 15:14-15, Jesus told His followers, “You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.” Do you regard Jesus as your friend? Even more important, do you think He considers you one of His friends? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Proverbs 12:15,26, 13:18, 14:7, 16:29, 19:20, 22:24-25, 23:19-21, 27:9

 

Challenge for This Week

 

Sometime during the next week, take some time to honestly evaluate your closest friendships. Are they people who share the same values you have? Are they having a positive influence on you – and are you having a positive impact on them as well?

Whether in the workplace or in our personal pursuits, the best friends are those who demonstrate a strong faith in Jesus Christ. You might find them in your CBMC group, people who understand what it means to live and work according to biblical truths and principles. If you are not yet a member of one, try to find a CBMC group that meets near you.