Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. Philippians 2:29 NLT
Both were named Mike, both were good friends, and both had a very different influence on me.
I met the first Mike when I was 15. My dad had been called as pastor of the church where Mike and his family attended. I was in the rebellious stages of adolescence…and so was Mike. He had experimented with a little more than I had and was eager to introduce me to alcohol, drugs, and cutting school. I was eager to follow his lead—and did. Mike was a good friend—and would have done anything for me, but his influence was negative.
I met the second Mike shortly after graduating high school when I started work at a local metal fabrication plant. He worked in quality control and had a desk in the warehouse where I worked. Mike had recently become a believer and was eager to please God with his actions and attitudes. At the time, I was still a little rough around the edges. Mike kept me sanded down. Every time I cussed, Mike gently called my name. Every time he saw or heard me committing wrongful actions, he lovingly rebuked me. Rather than get mad at Mike, I appreciated his concern for me and shaped up around him.
Forty years have passed since I hung around with the first Mike and about 34 since the second Mike. But I remember their influences well. So did Paul when it came to Epaphroditus. Paul was in prison. Epaphroditus delivered a gift to him from the believers at Philippi.
Good friends hold me accountable rather than lead me into unwise and unhealthy attitudes and actions. I’ll appreciate their rebukes because I know they have my best interests in mind.
Good friends show me unconditional love. Regardless of how I act or respond to their efforts, they will continue to love me as Christ does.
Good friends are always willing to lend me a helping hand. Helping me may inconvenience them…but they don’t mind.
And good friends and I share a common bond—belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and build our friendship on that foundation.
Wanting to be a good friend as well, I will return these favors for my friends.
Develop friendships that lift you up…not bring you down. Don’t let just any Mike into your life.
Prayer: Father, lead us into friendships with other believers who will enhance our journey with You.