Ah friends. We can’t live without them. And often, we can’t live with them. Quite naturally, we want our kids to have good friends too. At their best, childhood friends are buddies, encouragers, and fellow enthusiasts who create bonds that last a lifetime. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” But at their worst, childhood companions are drama queens, bullies, and liars that bring a steady stream of misery into our families.
So how do discover if our kids’ friends are little angles or little demons? How do we help them determine who to get close to and who to run from? We appeal to the scriptures. According to the Bible, bad friends, fools, are defined by these 7 characteristics. Let’s take a look:
1. A Fool Hates God
We must encourage our kids not to trust themselves to those who mock God, the Bible, or the people of God. The kid who makes fun of VBS, says the Bible is not true, and lies about the pastor should not be our kid’s best friend. In Psalm 14:1 and in 53:1 we ready that, “The fool says in his heart, ““There is no God.”” Any girl, boy, or teenager who openly makes fun of church, misrepresents the Bible, and attacks God should not be welcomed as a friend. Those who hate God are by nature fools. Rather, we should encourage our kids to befriend those who enjoy being around other Christians, who read the scriptures, and who love God.
2. A Fool Despises Wisdom
If a kid or teenager is constantly rejecting the advice of his parents, teachers, and counselors, she should not become our child’s best friend. Those who despise wisdom and instruction are fools. Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” And in Proverbs 28:26, we read, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Those who love the Lord know they don’t have all the answers. They also embrace the advice of those who are wiser than them. As Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We should encourage our kids to seek out friends who love wisdom.
The heart of him who had understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly (Prov. 15:14).
3. A Fool Disgraces His Family
If the parents’ of your child’s friends are discouraged, exhausted, and frustrated by their child, run. Fools and those who will lead your children to sin exasperate and disgrace their parents. Proverbs 17:25 says, “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.” A godly friend will be a blessing and encouragement to his family (Proverbs 10:1;15:5). Encourage your child to seek out friends who have good relationships with their parents.
4. A Fool Talks A lot
He shares every feeling, every thought, and every supposed insight (Prov. 17:28; 29:11; Eccl. 10:14). And though he freely tells all, he refuses to listen to those around him. The result is chaos both in his life and the life of his friends. He fills his Facebook feed, Instagram account, Twitter handle, and Snap Chat messages with complaints, boasts, and slander (Prov. 10:14). His words (both typed and spoken) lead to fights, drama, and quarrels. As Proverbs 18:6 says, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Don’t befriend this guy. Fools can’t help themselves from oversharing about pretty much everything. Encourage your kids to avoid the guy who “flaunt his folly” (Proverbs 13:16). Rather, encourage them to pursue kids who are slow to speak, and who are slow to take offense. As Proverbs 10:19 says,
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
5. A Fool Enjoys Sinning
A bad friend will enjoy sin. They will encourage those around them to cheat, lie, and steal with them. Why? The fools views her transgressions to be nothing more than a joke. As Proverbs 10:23 says, “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” The kid who loves breaking God’s laws should not become our kid’s friend. We should encourage our kids to befriend those who love God and flee from evil.
6. A Fool Harms People
In Proverbs 13:20, we read that “the companion of fools will suffer harm.” If someone is a fool, he will lead his friends into detention, into conflict, and perhaps even into legal troubles. A good friend will never encourage our kid to sin. Good friends direct our kids away from sin. As Proverbs 14:16 says, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” Let’s encourage our kids to befriend those who love righteousness.
7. A Fool Is Quick Tempered
Does a kid throw is bat at the baseball game, shout at his parents, and dress down his friends at a moment’s notice? Then we should encourage our kids to avoid him. Those prone to anger are not just over competitive. They are fools. Notice what Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Pursue those kids who are humble.
If a child hates God, despises wisdom, disgraces their families, talks a lot, enjoys sin, harms others, and is quick tempered, they should not be our child’s friend. If our kids trust themselves to a fool, they will suffer harm. Their lives will be turned upside down by drama and sin. (This is not to say our kids should avoid all sinners. We should always reach out to unbelievers. But we should not let them direct our lives or speak into our hearts.) As the apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Rather, we should encourage are kids to pursue close meaningful relationships with kids who love God and their neighbors. Our kids’ friends will shape our them. Are you ready to help them pick good ones?