All of you have friends, I know, but some may have but one close friend, and have many just-plain-friendly friends. I can remember back to when I was your age that I had two close friends; we three did things together, we went places together; we simply enjoyed each other’s fellowship in any circumstance and at all times. We three bosom friends each had other friends which we did not share in the threesome. I bet there are some of you who find themselves in that same situation. I am assuming that the threesome friendship you are enjoying are all fellow believers; or, better yet, that you are also fellow church members, Sunday School class and catechism call buddies. Fine, that is as it should be.
But in the broader concept of friendship you would include neighborhood boys and girls. Such friendships might be good, or might be injurious, or it might even be very bad for you. We all know that friends have influence over one another; be it in the realm of hairstyling (long hair in the back of the neck of you boys or fuzzy hair hanging over half of your faces, girls), or it might be wearing of faded, torn pants you boys wear, or you girls copying the boys in their unkempt long-sleeved shirts worn over your jeans; or untied shoe laces of your poor fitting tennis shoes, or, or…
Such influences are meaningless as far as character molding is concerned. But, oh, there are “friendly” influences that affect us which are not so innocent, and about which I’d like to warn you. I can imagine you girls have friends which say, “Why cannot we be Deacons, Elders and Ministers in our churches?” And some will whisper behind their hands with a smirk, saying “just wait a few years and we, as well as the men, will be able to function in those offices. Look about you, in other good churches they have already ordained qualified women in those offices.” Then I can hear the boys, in their swaggering contempt of girls say, “Just hear those gals. Do they think we will let them do that? Why, we are bigger and stronger than they are. That will never happen.”
Both of those boastful utterances are dead wrong! Why? Because the Bible clearly lays down rules for the roles of men and women in the church. I am sure you know what those Scriptures teach us. The headship of man does not lie in their being bigger and stronger, but in the creation of Adam and Eve, and the ordinance laid down therein by God.
Some of the influences of “friends” upon friends is in the form of downright temptation. That word means provoking to sin against another friend, or against your parents, or against God. Did you notice the quotation marks about that first word, friend, above? Thereby I am stressing that he, or she, is not your friend when tempting you. No, a true friend seeks your welfare, physically as well as spiritually. Spiritual temptation comes in hundreds of ways. In your Gramps’ day such a “friend” might tempt us to attend a movie theater. But in your day that form of temptation is installed in your television sets. Then there is a new temptation, of which your old Gramps is not at all acquainted, you may be invited to a friend’s house to enjoy the latest VCR presentation. I am told that some of that music and words can be quite raw and smutty! If any “friend” gives you a second invitation ditch him or her immediately! Tell your parents why you no longer keep that friendship. Maybe your parents will visit their parents to help them with such wayward children.
Temptations that can influence you in a physical way are varied, of course. One which you will almost surely meet is that a friend has taken up smoking (which is harmful to the body) and will offer you a fag, saying, “come on, it won’t hurt you to try one.” Or perish the thought, maybe they have a small flask of some potent potables in their room and invite you to try a sip or two. Or, no, your friends would not, but worldly friends might tempt a buddy to “try drugs.” If you should happen to run across such a situation, say, “no” and immediately absent yourself from such a “friend” which has turned enemy.
But now I can hear you say, “There he goes again. Gramps’ letters always turn into small sermons.” So be it, but you don’t have to take my word of warning, though it is based on a text in the Bible, in a Book written by the wisest grandpa that ever lived in the whole world. In the Book of Proverbs we find this gem: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
So, if you want a true friend, be one!