A photo of a person reading the Bible while surrounded by a diverse group of friends, showcasing the verse's message of the importance of surrounding oneself with positive influences.

What Does The Bible Say About ‘Tell Me Who Your Friends Are’?

The old saying ‘tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are’ speaks to the power of influence that friends can have in our lives. This idea has biblical roots, with several verses in the Bible warning readers about choosing friends wisely.

In short, the Bible advises readers to be cautious about who they spend time with, since the company we keep impacts who we become. Bad company corrupts good character, while wise friends impart wisdom.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the biblical basis for ‘tell me who your friends are’ across both the Old and New Testaments. We’ll look at specific verses that warn against frivolous companions as well as verses that extoll the virtues of surrounding ourselves with positive role models who bring out the best in us.

Old Testament Verses on Friendship

Proverbs 13:20 – Walk with the Wise

The book of Proverbs provides incredible wisdom about choosing friends carefully. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” This teaches us that the people we surround ourselves with directly impact who we become.

If we spend time with wise friends who make good decisions, their positive influence will rub off on us. But if we associate with foolish companions who make poor choices, we’re more likely to face harm as a result of their bad influence.

Proverbs 22:24-25 – Avoid Hot Tempers

Another warning from Proverbs is to avoid quick-tempered friends. Proverbs 22:24-25 cautions, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Friends with explosive anger can be dangerous, pulling us into conflict and drama. Their outbursts often lead to rash decisions and damaged relationships. It’s wise to steer clear of routinely angry friends who could lead us astray.

Psalms 1:1-2 – Finding Delight in Good Company

The Book of Psalms highlights the blessings of keeping good company. Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

When we delight in the Lord and follow His ways, we find joy. Surrounding ourselves with friends who share our godly values provides mutual encouragement to live righteously and prevents us from being led astray.

New Testament Guidance on Choosing Friends

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

The apostle Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company corrupts good character.” This means that spending time closely with unrighteous companions can negatively influence even righteous people to make poor choices.

According to a Barna survey, 57% of Christians say their friends impact their faith. So it’s vital for believers to choose like-minded friends who share their biblical values and can encourage their walk with God rather than lead them into sinful behaviors.

2 Corinthians 6:14 – Light and Darkness Cannot Coexist

Paul further cautions believers in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Just as two incompatible animals should not be joined together to pull a plow, Christians should avoid close friendships with non-believers because conflicting worldviews can strain relationships.

Research by the Institute for Family Studies found that couples with divergent religious beliefs are more prone to divorce due to clashes in core values.

James 4:4 – Friendship with the World Means Enmity with God

The book of James offers a stern warning that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). Trying to fit in with ungodly peers by compromising biblical principles will damage a believer’s intimacy with the Lord.

A Barna poll showed that today’s youth often feel pressured to downplay their faith to avoid bullying. But scripture makes clear that Christians cannot serve two masters – when conflicts arise, following Christ must take priority over pleasing people.

The Importance of Choosing Friends Carefully

Friends Shape Our Values and Priorities

The people we surround ourselves with have an enormous impact on who we become. As the old saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.” We tend to be drawn to those who share similar interests, perspectives and goals. The values and priorities of our friends rub off on us over time.

If we spend time with those who are selfish, dishonest or unkind, those traits may start to seem normal and acceptable to us. On the other hand, spending time with wise, generous and compassionate friends can inspire us to become better versions of ourselves.

The friends we choose set the tone for what we deem important in life.

Friends Impact Decision Making for Good or Ill

Our friends also influence the choices we make, for better or worse. When facing a moral dilemma or tough decision, we often turn to our friends for advice and input. Some friends may encourage us to take the high road and do what’s right, even if it’s difficult.

Other friends may nudge us down more selfish or harmful paths. We tend to follow the crowd, so surrounding ourselves with friends who make wise choices increases the likelihood that we will too. On the flip side, having friends who frequently make poor decisions can drag us into trouble right along with them.

Choosing friends wisely is crucial if we want to make choices that align with our values and support a life of meaning and purpose.

Friends Set Examples We May Follow

In addition to directly influencing our decision making, friends also lead by example. Their actions, attitudes and habits – both good and bad – rub off on us over time. According to a 2013 study, people were 50% more likely to gain weight if a close friend became obese. Why?

Because we unconsciously mimic the behavior patterns and lifestyle choices of those closest to us. The same is true when it comes to exercise habits, spending patterns, work ethic and more. Surrounding ourselves with friends who set positive examples in key areas of life motivates us to make healthy choices too.

The bottom line is that the company we keep plays a major role in shaping who we become. If we want to grow into the best versions of ourselves, we must carefully choose friends of good character who share similar values and priorities.

Their influence can set our feet on the path toward purpose, meaning and lasting fulfillment in life.


As the biblical verses and principles explored here illustrate clearly, the friends we choose to surround ourselves with have an outsized influence upon the direction of our lives. Rather than leave this crucial choice to chance, we must be intentional about cultivating friendships with those who will encourage our faith and growth in godliness.

The stakes are simply too high not to choose wisely when it comes to the company we keep.

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