The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, but there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage “choose your friends wisely.” This indeed is wise advice as Solomon, the principal author of Proverbs who is known for his wisdom, provides this advice himself. If you have ever wondered whether discernment is really that critical in building friendships, this verse makes it clear.
To better understand this wise counsel, let us first explore what friendship is. When you invite someone into a friendship relationship, you allow that person to occupy a place of influence and trust in your life generally reserved for only a select group. This puts you in a position of vulnerability as your friend has access to more of you than most people have. You have lowered the drawbridge and provided access to the castle. You are now more exposed.
What we see in this verse is a simple case of cause and effect. If you are not careful in selecting the people who may pass through the guarded gate of your life and enter a place of influence, you invite ruin. When you allow a destructive person to hold a place of power in your life, he or she just might destroy a few things. I am not sure you can expect otherwise. On the flip side, true friends provide a support that can be even greater than what you would expect from those who share your bloodline. A true friend not only holds you up but builds you up.
When you let people get close to you, you give them power. The power you give them depends on the person. Some will build; others will tear down. Being able to discern one from the other is critical to your walk with God, as you want to surround yourself with people who bring you closer to Him. May the Lord give you the discernment to know the difference and the wisdom to choose your friends accordingly.