1. A TRUE FRIEND
a. What are some qualities which a good friend should have? Proverbs 17:17; 18:24 (first part).
“Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be strengthened and encouraged by little attentions that cost only a loving effort. To such the strong, helpful grasp of the hand by a true friend is worth more than gold or silver. Words of kindness are as welcome as the smile of angels.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 158.
“Things will go wrong with every one; sadness and discouragement press every soul; then a personal presence, a friend who will comfort and impart strength, will turn back the darts of the enemy that are aimed to destroy. Christian friends are not half as plentiful as they should be. In hours of temptation, in a crisis, what a value is a true friend! . . . The true friends who will counsel, who will impart magnetic hopefulness, the calming faith that uplifts the soul,—oh, such help is worth more than precious pearls.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1163.
“Whoever is foolish enough to flatter you cannot be your true friend. Your true friends will caution, entreat, and warn you, and reprove your faults.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 226.
b. How devoted is a real friend? John 15:13; Job 6:14 (first part).
2. CHOOSING WISELY
a. What are some important things to consider when choosing friends? Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
“It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact. . . .
“Nothing can more effectually prevent or banish serious impressions and good desires than association with vain, careless, and corrupt-minded persons. . . .
“Choose for . . . associates those who love the purity of truth, whose morals are untainted, and whose habits are pure.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 125, 126.
b. How is the friendship of David and Jonathan described? 1 Samuel 18:1.
c. What are some other qualities to look for in a good friend? Proverbs 11:13; Luke 7:13; Galatians 5:22, 23.
“Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness. This is the fruit of the Christian tree. Planted by the rivers of water, it always brings forth its fruit in due season.
“If we have the love of Christ in our souls, it will be a natural consequence for us to have all the other graces—joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . . .
“When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart, . . . His presence will be felt.”—My Life Today, p. 50.
3. LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS
a. What do we know about the historical accounts provided in Scripture? 1 Corinthians 10:11, 12.
“If the iniquities of the Hebrews had been omitted from the Sacred Record, and only their virtues recounted, their history would fail to teach us the lesson that it does.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 11.
b. How did Samson choose his closest friends? What was the result? Judges 14:3.
“Had Samson obeyed the divine commands as faithfully as his parents had done, his would have been a nobler and happier destiny. But association with idolaters corrupted him. The town of Zorah being near the country of the Philistines, Samson came to mingle with them on friendly terms. Thus in his youth intimacies sprang up, the influence of which darkened his whole life. A young woman dwelling in the Philistine town of Timnath engaged Samson’s affections, and he determined to make her his wife. To his God-fearing parents, who endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose, his only answer was, ‘She pleaseth me well.’ The parents at last yielded to his wishes, and the marriage took place.
“Just as he was entering upon manhood, the time when he must execute his divine mission—the time above all others when he should have been true to God—Samson connected himself with the enemies of Israel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 562, 563.
c. As Lot chose where to live, what was the deciding factor, and what fact did he ignore? Genesis 13:10, 12, 13. What effect did the associations of Sodom have upon his family? 2 Peter 2:7, 8; Genesis 19:14.
“The influence of [Lot’s] wife and the associations of that wicked city would have led him to apostatize from God had it not been for the faithful instruction he had early received from Abraham. The marriage of Lot and his choice of Sodom for a home were the first links in a chain of events fraught with evil to the world for many generations.”—Ibid., p. 174.
4. UNSAFE FRIENDSHIPS
a. How does God view friendship with the world? James 4:4.
“Between the worldly man and the one who is faithfully serving God, there is a great gulf fixed. Upon the most momentous subjects,—God and truth and eternity,—their thoughts and sympathies and feelings are not in harmony. One class is ripening as wheat for the garner of God, the other as tares for the fires of destruction. How can there be unity of purpose or action between them?”—Evangelism, p. 620.
b. What further counsel does God give on worldly friendships? 2 Corinthians 6:14, 17.
“You cannot mingle with worldlings, and partake of their spirit, and follow their example, and be at the same time a child of God. The Creator of the universe addresses you as an affectionate Father. If you separate from the world in your affections, and remain free from its contamination, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust, God will be your Father, He will adopt you into His family, and you will be His heir. In place of the world, He will give you, for a life of obedience, the kingdom under the whole heavens. He will give you an eternal weight of glory and a life that is as enduring as eternity.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 44.
c. What do these types of friendships show about the condition of our heart? How does God look upon this? Matthew 10:37, 38.
“God calls for an unconditional surrender of the heart and affections to Him. If you love friends, brothers or sisters, father or mother, houses or lands, more than Me, says Christ, you are not worthy of Me.”—Ibid., vol. 3, p. 45.
“Remember that in the lives of the followers of Christ must be seen the same devotion, the same subjection to God’s work of every social claim and every earthly affection, that was seen in His life. God’s claims must ever be made paramount.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 53.
5. INTIMATE FRIENDSHIPS
a. In choosing our closest friendships, especially those leading to marriage, what should we never forget? Matthew 22:37; Luke 14:33.
“Every association we form, however limited, exerts some influence upon us. The extent to which we yield to that influence will be determined by the degree of intimacy, the constancy of the intercourse, and our love and veneration for the one with whom we associate.”—The Adventist Home, p. 459.
“Just in proportion to the strength of the friendship, will be the amount of influence which friends will exert over one another for good or for evil. . . .
“If choice is made of companions who fear the Lord, the influence will lead to truth, to duty, and to holiness.”—Ibid., pp. 455, 456.
b. Why shouldn’t we choose intimate friends from among those who do not share our faith or from those who are unconverted? Amos 3:3.
“As Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from God to idolatry, so do frivolous companions, who have no depth of principle, turn away the hearts of those who were once noble and true, to vanity, corrupting pleasures, and downright vice.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 192.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What are some things that a true friend will do for you?
2. Why is it dangerous to be closely associated with those whose minds operate on an immoral level?
3. What can we learn from Samson’s mistake in choosing his friends?
4. What is involved in unconditionally surrendering our heart and our affections to God?
5. What factors determine how much we yield to the influence of our associations?