Changez Vos Amis! (Change Your Friends!)

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Changez Vos Amis! (Change Your Friends!)

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Shouldn't friends be forever? The hard answer is: No. There are times to change friends. Your faith, your happiness, even your life may depend on whether you change your friends. The questions are why and when. During the 1950s the president of France was General Charles de Gaulle, who came to fame leading the free French forces alongside the Allies in World War II against the demonic Nazi dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. At one point Jacques Soustelle, a close aide of the general, returned from a trip to inform de Gaulle that he had conducted an informal poll in his native French Algiers, and his friends were all opposed to the general's policies. De Gaulle's direct and hard-hitting response: "Changez vos amis!" Change your friends! Certainly we should be friendly and respectful to all, but our close friends need to be chosen carefully. You will have just a handful of very close friends in your life. Such friends influence you profoundly—and you them. We tend to mold our ideas, convictions and behavior to fit in with our friends. If you choose the right kind of friends, you will help each other stand up for God's way of life, that is, for what's right. Of birds and fools You've heard the wise saying, "Birds of a feather flock together." But why do they flock together? Because they're the same kind of birds! Likewise, you will hang with companions you are comfortable with. Your friends will be those you in some way admire, find fascinating, whose thinking you desire to share. That's good, right? No, not always. "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20 Proverbs 13:20He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
American King James Version×
). What kind of friends are the fools God is talking about? What sort of birds should you not fly with? • Do your friends pressure you to shoplift or break the law in other ways? Do they live on the criminal side of the law? • Do your friends pressure you to commit sins of sexual immorality? Are they sexually immoral? • What is your friends' style? Do they pressure you to dress and groom immodestly or to imitate the look of the rebellious, immoral or criminal element of society? • Do your friends pressure you directly or by their example to break the Third Commandment by taking God's name in vain and to use other vulgar and disrespectful language? • Do your friends pressure you to listen to or watch morally destructive music and entertainment? Do they listen to it and watch it? • Do your friends encourage you to break God's laws, ignore the Sabbath and generally put down God and His way of living? In the 2005 movie The Pacifier, muscle-bound, action-adventure star Vin Diesel plays a Navy SEAL, Lt. Shane Wolfe, sent to protect the children of a slain but vitally important computer expert while their mother tries to help a government agent find the key to her late husband's research. The teenage daughter invites dozens of her "friends" over for an unauthorized party, and they trash the house. Returning from errands, Lt. Wolfe orders them all out of the home—once they have cleaned up the mess. Afterward, the daughter protests that all her friends will ridicule her at school, and he teaches her a great truth of life. "You call those people your friends?! They have no respect for you; they have no respect for your home. You have no respect for yourself . . ." If you had to answer yes to any of the questions in the list above, if you call those people your friends, then it's time to bite the bullet and change your friends. Great expectations But shouldn't we be friends with everybody? Isn't that what God would want? No, actually the biblical account shows a different story. It all started with the Garden of Eden fiasco and that fruit-selling serpent—a bad influence if there ever was one. In the decades that followed, Cain, the first boy born on earth, grew up to hate the second boy born on earth—his brother, Abel. Cain refused to present God with an acceptable sacrifice while Abel worshipped God in the way He commanded. As a result, Cain burned with jealous anger against his own brother—and perhaps only friend on earth. Then Jesus Christ, long before His own human birth, confronted Cain one day. "What's the matter, Cain? Why are you angry? Why are you so down in the mouth?" Next, Christ offered Cain the path of the right moral standard of behavior, plus acceptance and friendship with the family of God! "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for [as in, to conquer and corrupt] you, but you should rule over it" (Genesis 4:1-7 Genesis 4:1-7 [1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: [5] But to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. [6] And the LORD said to Cain, Why are you wroth? and why is your countenance fallen? [7] If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And to you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him.
American King James Version×
). "If you do well . . ." Jesus put it even more directly during His ministry on earth: "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14 John 15:14You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.
American King James Version×
). Our close friends need to be those who strive to obey the law and commands of God. We should have great expectations of them, and they of us. Being friendly and respectful to all is fundamental, but if you've chosen bad friends, then it's time to wake up and changez vos amis! Your friends—yourself Lt. Shane Wolfe was right in The Pacifier about picking the right kind of friends. It shows whether you have respect for yourself. Some pick friends out of pity or for the thrill of dangerous and risky behavior exhibited by the friend. Some gullibly pick the wrong friends out of a misguided religious fervor. They think that they can personally change their friends overnight into paragons of goodness. Believe it or not, the odds are 10 to one against such a friend picker. That's right, the counseling profession has commonly recognized that in a group setting—like a group of friends—it takes 10 good examples to overcome the negative impact on the group dynamic of one bad example. Small wonder God inspired King Solomon of Israel to include this friendship proverb in the biblical collection: "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them [as in, themselves and the ones who chose them as friends] astray" (Proverbs 12:26 Proverbs 12:26The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor: but the way of the wicked seduces them.
American King James Version×
). In the New Testament Paul the apostle quoted the astute observation of an earlier Greek poet, Menander: "Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits' [or, character]" (1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
American King James Version×
). When you choose evil company or bad friends, what does it say about you? It says you have little or no respect for the kind of person God is molding you into. As a vertical thinker, you have a particular, divine calling to understand the truth about life in the universe. You know, or are rapidly learning, the answers to the most profound questions: Why are we here? Where are we going from here? What is the purpose of life? The world's greatest educators, philosophers, government leaders and even religious leaders simply do not comprehend the answers to those questions that you now routinely understand. But remember this—you have that knowledge and calling because, in fact, you do have true friend in Jesus Christ! And He, the great Messiah, is working out a plan that you are a vital part of to bring true friendship to all mankind—including to all of historical humanity who knew few friends and many enemies. Why squander such an opportunity and grand mission in your life by hanging with the wrong crowd, flying with the wrong flock and chumming with evil company? If you find yourself in a bad friend situation, then have respect for Jesus Christ, God the Father and for yourself and follow the advice of the late French President Charles de Gaulle: "Changez vos amis!" Change your friends.