/"Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."/
/Even a little wrong influence can lead to devastating consequences./
A British newspaper was struggling financially. Readership was down, people were disinterested in the paper, and many newspapers in the business had already shut down. The editor-in-chief of the paper was a young, energetic man who had a passion for the newspaper. He often worked ninety hours a week, devoting his whole self to the advancement of the paper. When notified that his paper would soon be closed if revenues weren't increased, he brainstormed for a plan to stimulate interest in the paper. Not long later, he came up with a brilliant idea. The paper would hold a contest. The rules were this: the paper wanted readers to submit a story in which they came up with the definition of a "friend." The winner of the story would have their entry printed, their picture in the paper, and their definition submitted to a local publishing company to be included in a special edition of a dictionary. Although his idea was a long stretch, he counted on the fact that people would want to see their own picture in the paper, and would want their definition printed in the special edition dictionary.
His idea was a hit. The contest ran for three weeks, but in the first week alone hundreds of definitions were submitted. During the three weeks, readership increased by twenty percent, and newspapers were flying off the newsstands. Everyone wanted to see if his definition had been selected.
At the end of three weeks, the newspaper narrowed the search down to these definitions:
"One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable.""One who understands our silence.""A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.""A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
And the winning definition was "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."
While the newspaper's goal was to increase revenue, everyone who read the paper learned a great truth-friendship greatly impacts people. Simply from reading the entries, one can deduce that the writers had some personal experiences that affected their entries.
Friends play vital roles in our lives. Have you ever had a friend who knew just what to say in tough times, or perhaps they were a kind listener on whom you could always count? Never take for granted the influence of a friend.
Just as a friend can be a great influence for good, so a friend can influence for bad. Notice Paul's question to the Galatians,
/"Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"/ The Galatians had begun listening to false prophets and soon they were being affected by their doctrine. As Paul went on to say, /"A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."/
Your friends affect you either positively or negatively. In your Christian battle, your friends are either strengthening you to fight the devil or they are weakening your defense. Which one are your friends? Don't allow wayward friends to pull you down. God desires you to be friendly and kind to everyone, yet only allow godly Christians focused on doing right to be your close friends.
Do you have godly influences as friends? Re-evaluate whom you allow to be your close friends. If someone is not spiritually helping you, you need to break that friendship with him. Giving up that friendship may be painful, but allowing them to adversely influence you will lead to greater consequences.
If you have a godly friend who encourages you to do right, thank them! Let them know of your gratitude for how they help you, and determine to be a godly encourager to them as well. Make sure your friends are headed in the same spiritual direction as you.
-- Paul Chappel