Proverbs 12:26 says, A righteous man is cautious in friendship but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

In the late 1800’s, some say… two young men became “pals”. What happened next and the mark they made on each other’s life, would later spark one of the greatest historical debates of all time. For some would say these two were friends to the very end and others would vehemently argue that they were ruthless enemies.  Regardless of the details, one young man ended up shot and died—while the other reaped the reward…  Both were etched into the pages of history books, movies and memorabilia as legends of their time.

Friendship can prove tricky sometimes.  The reason for this is because not everyone is meant to be our “friend”.  This does not mean that we aren’t to be kind, accepting and peaceful to everyone – it just means that we need to be careful who we trust because our friendships impact our lives in many ways.  Many people have had to learn this as they go. 

Think a moment about your own friendships.  You know, the people you call your “pals”?  Are they trustworthy, dependable?  Can you count on them through thick and thin? Or do they leave you wondering where they are in your time of need? Perhaps, a more important question is, do they offer something to your life or take away from it?

We all want others to like us and hang out with us through the good times and bad.  We all want someone to encourage us when we are down and to celebrate with us when we are up! Trouble is… sometimes we end up picking the wrong people to hang out with and be our friends, buddies or pals… and what is equally disturbing is that sometimes these wrong friends can pick us!

When choosing people to come along side us and get close to us, we will often drop our guard and allow ourselves to become vulnerable… which is not a bad thing, IF we have the right kind of friends.  But, if we have the wrong kind of friends it can be devastating to not only our character – but to our witness, and our relationship with God.

It’s a situation that has either happened to everyone or will…  Someone we thought was our friend let us down, hurt us or led us in a direction we didn’t want to go.

Such was the case of the palmist David, who thought he had a king for a friend… (King Saul) until his other friend Jonathan (King Saul’s son) informed David that this friend was looking to kill him.  Another case was Job – a very godly man – who also thought he had a few nice friends until they all failed him by lecturing him with their verbal insults of judgment and gave him meaningless advice opposite of what God agreed with.

God’s Word tells us that this world is filled with scoundrels who plot evil and later leave us burned by what they say.  Many times those same types of people stir up conflicts in our homes, at our work places and our churches – as they destroy close friendships along the way. 

For this reason we can find encouragement because Jesus also experienced these kinds of encounters by the religious leaders, the crowds that followed him, and even his very own disciples. 

The “friends” closest to Jesus betrayed him, denied him, abandoned him and doubted him.  And guess what?  We too, were once enemies of God because of sin – but because of Grace through Christ we can now be reconciled with Him.  It is this reconciliation that allows us to have the ONE FRIEND – JESUS – that will never leave us or give up on us.

Furthermore, the greatest friend anyone can have is the kind of friend who will lay their life down for the other and Jesus did this for us when he died on a cross.  He is that friend who will stay close to us – closer than our other friends and even closer than our own family.  He will never let us down.  Even our best friends can’t give us this kind of Friendship.

But, perhaps you are not someone who struggles with making the right kind of friend… Maybe you are someone who struggles with BEING the right kind of friend.  The best way to be the right kind of friend is for you to think more highly of others than yourself.  Be a thoughtful, kind, loyal and trustworthy friend.  Be someone that loves others all the time – with the Love of Jesus – in the same way that He loves us.  Be there for others and your friends as often as you can, especially during the times they go through difficult seasons of life. 

Always remember this – the only kind of friend worth being or having is someone who will BE JESUS and display the right kind of friendship. Anyone can be the kind of friend who is more of a “pal” than a friend.  Being or having a “pal” doesn’t necessarily mean “true friend”. In fact, there are many people who have used the word “pal” as a sarcastic reference to insinuate the friendship is an indebted one.  True friendship is when we take each other seriously and we are invested in each other’s life.  Friendships like these are important and very beneficial to who we are and how God weaves our tapestry of life with theirs.  Furthermore, as Believers we should always be wise and not allow the quantity of our friends who do NOT know God or walk with Him to outweigh the quantity of our friendships that DO know God and offer us His counsel with Godly encouragement. We must learn to find the balance by choosing and investing in the right friendships that are two-way and not just one-sided.  We can do this by asking God to help lead and guide us step by step.  

The history books have never quite been able to give an accurate and factual report regarding what really happened between the two young men mentioned earlier – but records indicate that the word “PALS” was later carved on the tombstone of the one who was killed.  Just who wrote this epitaph and the meaning behind it, remains unknown because no one could ever agree if these two men were at one time loyal friends or just victims of a friendship gone bad.  One thing is for sure… the young outlaw known as Billy the Kid and the young newly deputized sheriff Pat Garrett would have had a different outcome if they had both been cautious before becoming acquaintances.

And the verse mentioned above is proof positive that we too should choose our friends wisely.

Do you really know who your FRIENDS are???

Extra Verses for Personal Study:
Proverbs 12:25, Ephesians 4:32, Proverbs 22:1, I Corinthians 15:33, I Samuel 16:19-23, I Samuel Chapter’s 18, 19, 20 Psalms 55, Job 16:1-5, Job 42:7-10, Proverbs 16:27-28, John 15:13, Mark 14:43-46, Luke 22:55:-60,  John 20:24-27, Romans 5:8-11, John 15:13, Proverbs 18:24, Philippians 2:2-8, Proverbs 17:17