Blood determines family, but friends are the family you choose. It is not just any friendship, however, which is beneficial for Christians. The adage “choose your friends wisely” is certainly true for those who desire to become saints and follow the Lord. We are given an example of true friendship, and wise choices of friendship, in I Samuel 20 with Jonathan and David. These two heroes of Sacred Scripture provide us an image of sacrificial love and friendship.
We must choose friends carefully because it is those friends who become like family. They are the chosen family, and they must be chosen with prudence. We see in I Samuel that Johnathan was faced with a difficult choice. His father was intent on murdering David. It is easy to turn a blind eye, or even to “go along to get along” with our blood family, but Jonathan does not do that. Instead, Johnthan stands up for his friend because he knows that killing David is the wrong thing to do and he does what is right rather than what is accepted by his family.
“And Johnathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” (I Samuel 20:17)
Johnathan expresses a deep devotion to his friend. In return, David supports and defends his friend later in the conflict between Johnthan and his father.
“Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, ‘Why should he be put to death? What ha she done?’ But Saul cast his spear at him to strike him; so Jonthan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. And Johnthan rose from the table to fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.” (I Samuel 20:32-34)
We must find friends who will help us live more like Christ. It would have been easy for Jonathan to either turn a blind eye or ignore his father’s intentions. It would have been the typical reaction to choose family over someone who was not blood family. It would have been easier for him. But Johnathan did not choose the easy path. He chose the right path. Throughout the entire friendship of Jonthan and David, we see each one of them strengthen the other’s devotion and relationship with the Lord.
If our friends are not helping our relationship with the Lord then we must reconsider the company we keep. The chosen family in our life must be those who help us live the life of a saint. It must be those who pray with us, read Scripture with us, talk about the faith, are devoted to the Sacraments, and love the Lord. It must be those who are willing to sacrifice for the friendship in order to do what the Lord would want them to do.
We cannot choose the family for which we share blood. We can, however, choose the friends who become our family. Choose wisely.