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doing math with friendships
gregg barbour. JAM. 8/10/03
Earl C. Willer tells the story of two men who grew up best friends:
Though Jim was just a little older than Phillip and often assumed the role of leader, they did everything together. They even went to high school and college together.
After college they decided to join the marines. By a unique series of circumstances they were sent to Germany together where they fought side by side in one of history’s ugliest wars.
One sweltering day during a fierce battle, amid heavy gunfire, bombing, and close-quarters combat, they were given the command to retreat. As the men were running back, Jim noticed that Phillip had not returned with the others. Panic gripped his heart. Jim knew if Phillip was not back in another minute or two, then he wouldn’t make it.
Jim begged his commanding officer to let him go after his friend, but the officer forbade the request, saying it would be suicide.
Risking his own life, Jim disobeyed and went after Phillip. His heart pounding, he ran into the gunfire, calling out for Phillip. A short time later, his platoon saw him hobbling across the field carrying a limp body in his arms.
Jim’s commanding officer upbraided him, shouting that it was a foolish waste of time and an outrageous risk. "Your friend is dead," he added, "and there was nothing you could do."
"No sir, you’re wrong," Jim replied. "I got there just in time. Before he died, his last words were ’I knew you would come.’"
One of the most precious gifts we have in our lives is the development of friendships and relationships with others. Friendships can bring joy or heartache. And they should not be entered into lightly. That’s why it’s important for you to know how to choose your friends. Over the past few weeks we’ve been discussing character. We talked about Daniel and his integrity, we talked about words that hurt and the truth about sticks and stones, and we talked about anger, and how to avoid the monster. Today, I want to talk to you about how to choose your chums and comrades. We have to understand that certain friendships can add to or subtract from the nature of our character.
First of all, we can see that God wants us to steer clear of friends that are constantly bringing us down. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘bad company corrupts good character.” The people that you spend time with that damage, deface, deform, degrade, demean, demoralize, disfigure, harm, hurt, impair, infect, ravage, reduce, ruin, violate, and pull you down are ‘bad company.’ There’s an episode of the Simpson’s that can illustrate this for us. In the 2nd season of The Simpsons, there is an episode called “Bart gets an F.” In this episode, bart fails a test, and if he fails another, he may have to repeat the 4th grade. Bart is an odd kid, a menace of sorts, so we’ll label him as ‘bad company.’ Bart enlists the help of Ralph Wiggum, the class brain. Bart promises Ralph that he can have Bart and his gang as friends if he’ll just help him with school. So as Ralphy begins to tutor Bart, he also begins to hang out with them, and they coerce him to do things he wouldn’t normally do. He pulls obnoxious pranks with Bart and all his pals, and his otherwise known as good character, begins to take a plummet down the drain of contamination. You see, we
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