“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Prov. 12:26). The Bible admonishes us that failure to choose our friends wisely can have catastrophic results. We dedicate time and effort when developing business plans, choosing a good holiday destination, and even choosing our clothes. That is all right. However, many of us leave the development of our friendships to chance. Or even if we do make an effort to choose, we base our choices on faulty standards. Sadly, too many of God’s professed children have lost their calling as a result of their casual approach to making friends.

The Bible delivers various cautionary statements with respect to friendship:

“Be not deceived: ‘evil company corrupts good habits’ ” (1 Cor. 15:33).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1).

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Prov. 27:6).

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20).

What friends do is infectious; friends affect each other. For better or worse, our perceptions are influenced and our standards may shift.

Common criteria used in selecting friends include proximity, similar life experiences, shared interests, pleasure, ease of accessibility (e.g. working at the same organization or attending the same gym), same social class, tribal or racial congruence, or even sharing a common enemy. It is true that many friendships just naturally develop, but God urges us to be prudent in the friendships we allow to grow and influence our life choices and ultimately our eternal destiny. We should choose friends who will help us build character that we will take to heaven when Jesus comes.

While no earthly friendship is perfect, two people who share devotion to Christ are better than two who are pulling in different directions. When Christ is part of their relationship, the cord of friendship is even stronger and very difficult to break. Christian friendships have in common a shared commitment to Christ. But to choose good friends we must first be good friends ourselves, lest we be the ones to cause their downfall.