It has been said that we are defined by our relationships. In other words, the people we are comfortable around and, more importantly, those who are comfortable around us, say a lot about who we are.

Before I go any further, let me remind you of how casually we use the word “friend” in our culture. To many of us, the term “friend” applies to any and all acquaintances we have ever made, and that’s okay. An old adage goes something like this, “If you want to have friends you must be friendly.” I am for building relational bridges whenever possible. I think that is one of the best ways for us to increase the sphere of our influence so that we can fulfill the ministry we have been called to.

A true friend, however, is more than just an acquaintance. I have heard it said that a true friend is someone we share our hopes and dreams with, and a very close friend is someone we share our failures and disappointments with. A true friend is someone who has the right to speak into our life even if what they have to say isn’t what we want to hear. A true friend is an influence, hopefully for good, but, whether a good or bad influence, they will affect the way we think and act, just as we should be affecting the way they think and act. That’s why one ancient depiction of friendship was that of “iron sharpening iron”. Our friends should bring the best out of us!

Are yours? Do your friends challenge you to grow spiritually, emotionally, socially and intellectually? Or do they prefer you to stay the same so they are never challenged to fulfill their destiny? What do you see in your close friends that you admire, that challenges you, that lifts you to new heights? How are you being influenced and how are you influencing? The Bible says, “a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough!” (Galatians 5:9)


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