• Jason Wade


1 Do not envy the wicked,

do not desire their company;

2 for their hearts plot violence,

and their lips talk about making trouble.

Proverbs 24:1-2

There are always times in our lives that we all need a true friend. However, as we are looking at the world today it is very difficult to truly know who your friends are. I have heard the phrase "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" in a lot of movies. But the reality is that is exactly what happens. In this time and age it really is difficult to know who our true friends are and the enemies that are ready to pounce or even run as soon as the situation arises where they have lost any benefit from being around you. I watch it every day in the lives of our students and the hurt and scars that are left behind are carried as baggage throughout the rest of their lives. I know that may seem crazy, but I am telling you that there are things that happen in our lives that impact the way we see ourselves later in life. Losing those friends who turn out to be enemies can cause us to really question if there is something wrong with us for them to leave, but the reality is that they may have been a friend wolf in sheeps clothing.

As we continue to seek wisdom from the teachings of Solomon, we are forced to really look at the way we discern our friendships. Just like any other relationship, we have to set boundaries and recognize the values we want to surround ourselves with as we are not only choosing a friend to help pour into us and keep us accountable, but they are looking for the same from us. Some of the characteristics that most friendships are desperately seeking are honesty, integrity, accountability, trustworthiness or basically someone that is real. I have

read that it is better to have an enemy that is real about your faults than a friend that lies and covers up the truth. There are very few people who are truly able to enter into the inner realm of our hearts and see us for who we really are when we let all of our boundaries down. It's not easy to find true friends but we are able to love them until a true connection and friendship is born. This type of love, phileo, is described as one that is willing to grow trust over time. It does not mean that the friend will not mess up or even cause you to lose faith in them, but in the long run they are still the ones that will be by your side when trouble arises. It is the diamonds in the rough that we must be willing to nurture and pour into if we are desiring a friendship to last for the long haul.

Solomon is warning us in his words today to be careful to befriend the wicked or to desire their lifestyle. I know that it always seems that those outside our friend groups seem to always have it all together. We must be willing to recognize our "frenemies" who are only looking to cause havoc in our lives. Their true desire is only selfish gain instead of reciprocating the efforts we use to pour into their lives. We must invite God into the equation in order that we are not pulled into their world and to their level. I always use the example of a chair to represent this illustration. It is much easier for the friend to pull us down to their level than it is for us to pull them up onto our level. We then begin to lose sight of who we are and begin turning into the ones we were trying to help. Now, understand that there is also a chance that we could grow from these friend connections, but we have to walk into the relationship with strong foundations so when we step into a situation that we are able to discern the right decision we need to make. Solomon was just warning us that we must be careful to chose the people who we invite into our lives because it truly can cause our lives to change forever.

I heard Andy Stanley say, "Your friends will determine the quality and direction of your life." You may not believe me but even in our teenage years, our friends change the clothes that we wear, the foods and drinks that we consume, and even the color of our hair. I have seen some people even shave their head just so they could fit in with their friend group. Unfortunately, it was not to soon after that they left her out in the cold never to be their friend again because they no longer needed her to drive them around since another one in the group got their license and a newer car. The scars cut deep and the girl attempted suicide a few weeks later. Solomon's words were speaking the same truth. Frenemies are really ready to see how far they can push us

away from who we truly are and ready to run away when they have accomplished their task. So today I am encouraging us to truly look back over the relationships we have in our lives that we call friends. I pray that we are not trying to force ourselves into the lives of those who are leading us down the wrong path, and trust me that won't be easy. We all want to be accepted by the eyes of the world and for many of us that comes at a cost no matter what age we are. We just have to ask ourselves if the price we are paying destroys the integrity and character that we have built along the way. Friend or enemy... we can only tell the difference by prayer and true discernment, and I pray that we are able to find out the truth before it is too late.

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