By Niealie Petit

What is the definition of Friendship to you?
For most folks friendship is a multilayered blend of care, consideration, loyalty, love, respect, and trust for another human being.
True friendship goes far beyond merely sharing time together; true friendship withstands times of hardship, true friendship uplifts, true friendship motivates, and true friendship encourages; true friendship is long-lasting and it stands the tests of time.
To feel valued, loved, accepted, and most of all esteemed, is paramount for any human being, especially, an adolescent.

We all want friends, friends are important. Poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself.” Simply put, none of us can go this life alone. I would further declare that it would be impossible to live this 
life without the camaraderie of a good friend.

Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need” (New Living Translation). God gives us friends to help us grow spiritually & naturally. His desire is that we surround ourselves with those who not only encourage us to follow after the precepts and statutes of Jesus Christ, but who also show us how to follow them, by following after them, themselves.Thus, it behooves us all, whether young or old to make sure that the people we title as “friend” do not live in opposition to or subvert our walk with Christ.

When I was a pre-teen, I remember my mother telling me “when you hang out with trash, trash will get in your eyes.” Initially, I thought that this statement made no sense at all because who, in their right mind, would “hang out” with trash! I thought this was just another one of her absurd Southern sayings. However, as I grew into my latter teenage years I came to realize the truth of this statement, as I began to see how those friends whom I grew up with began to hang out with the “cool” kids, who didn’t follow the rules, disrespected their parents, teachers, and anyone else who was placed in authority over them. Sadly, many of them dropped out of school, experienced teenage pregnancy, entered into the juvenile justice system, or worst yet, a few of them were even killed.

I saw firsthand how surrounding yourself with disobedient, disrespectful, and directionless people could so easily cause your entire world to collapse. So, as a teenager, I made a conscious choice not to have anyone in my life who did not exude the same values, ethics, and principles as me; suffice it to say, my list of friends was short, but that was okay by me because I realized even then, as a teenager, that I wanted to live a life that was pleasing to God. Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (New Living Translation), and I certainly did not want to be a fool and suffer a fool’s reward!

Unfortunately, in the day in which we live many youths think morals are a brand of makeup, values are something you order off of the McDonald’s dollar menu, and ethics are someone’s cultural background.

As the day of the Lord’s return grows ever nearer the hearts of men are becoming more and more wicked and their love is growing cold (Matthew 24:12) and this has resulted in many parents not taking the time to instill any morals or values into their children. So, in turn multitudes of youths are wondering aimlessly in this world with no moral compass.

Many young people are growing up having never been taught to reverence the Lord. Thus, life, whether their own or another’s and doing what is good and what is right holds no value to them. This knowledge alone leads me to tell every young person and adult alike, to be careful of the people that you surround yourself with because everyone is not your friend. There are some people whose only desire is to bring hurt, harm, chaos, and confusion into the lives of those that they meet.

Just because someone appears to be “good” doesn’t mean that they are. A person will always reveal their true character, in time. Even an actor has to take a break, in between performances.

And, let’s be honest, it’s difficult enough to navigate the waters of adolescence with school-work, extracurricular activities, and family responsibilities that allowing individuals who do not share your same morals, values, and ethics, into your friend circle, is an unnecessary burden to bear.

And, please do not take this as me saying that you cannot speak to and/or acquaint yourself with someone who does not share your same principles (because God does call us to be a light to the world and to show them his love), but fellowshipping with them and making them a friend can only lead you down a path of unrighteousness. And, in the end, don’t you want friends who draw you closer to the Lord, instead of lead you away from him?

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