Proverbs 22:24–25; 17:14, 19; 26:21; 25:19; 13:20; 14:17, 22, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 19:11; 3:3–4; 16:6; 20:6; 10:12; 11:17; 15:17; 17:17; 18:24; 27:9comment (0)
April 10, 2014
By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Explore the Bible By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Forge Godly Friendships
Proverbs 22:24–25; 17:14, 19; 26:21; 25:19; 13:20; 14:17, 22, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 19:11; 3:3–4; 16:6; 20:6; 10:12; 11:17; 15:17; 17:17; 18:24; 27:9
Consider Consequences (22:24–25; 17:14, 19; 26:21; 25:19; 13:20; 14:22)
In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul tells us to be careful with whom we associate: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” These Proverbs reflect this advice from Paul. Christians need to walk a fine line in whom they choose for company. We need to understand that we are called to love our neighbor but not necessarily to live like him. The Proverbs in this section warn us to be careful of how we interact with others. Christians surely cannot neglect people who are different than we are. In fact, the opposite is true. Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and “sinners” — those who were the unlovable ones in society — and we are to do the same. But we always need to be careful to make sure we have close, reliable Christian friends who can encourage us in our Christian walk. If we hang out with people who are easily angered (Prov. 22:24–25) we may also begin to become easily angered. There are many stories in our society about a “good kid” who got mixed up with the wrong crowd and eventually joined in their behavior. We need to be grounded in Christ — knowing who we are in Christ and knowing how we are to live and act — before we can really minister to those around us. Having good friends who are positive Christian examples to us can help us remain focused on Christ in a world that tries to pull us away from God. With God’s help we do all that is possible to build and maintain godly friendships.
Cultivate Patience (14:17, 29; 15:18; 16:32; 19:11)
People who are hot-tempered are dangerous. It is important to note that being hot-tempered or quick-tempered is different than being angry. Being angry is not necessarily a sin — Jesus became angry at times, and He was sinless (for one example see Mark 3:5). A Christian can be angry over an injustice that occurs, like corruption in politics or hearing about a crime. The key for a Christian is not to lose one’s temper and not to hate the individuals involved in the injustice. When people lose their temper they are prone to foolishness. Yelling at people, harboring bad thoughts toward people or getting physically violent are all possible outcomes for “blowing a fuse.” Instead Christians are to exhibit patience. If we are walking with God on a regular basis, reading the Bible and praying, it helps us remember that God is patient with us and we are to be patient with others, showing love to those who offend us or who bother us. This should be a mark of a Christian as it is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Christians should be known to be patient with others, whether it is waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting behind slow traffic or dealing with difficult and angry people. Christians build and maintain godly friendships by cultivating patience.
Communicate Loyalty and Love (3:3–4; 16:6; 20:6; 10:12; 11:17; 15:17; 17:17; 18:24; 27:9)
When one thinks of the qualities of a friend, loyalty, faithfulness and love come to mind. These Proverbs emphasize that these are the characteristics of a true friend. Many friendships today are ended over trivialities or small disagreements. It is easy to give up on another person when they offend you, and some people in society suggest it is OK to use other people to get ahead. However, the Bible teaches that if you are a friend with someone in order to promote yourself or as a stepping stone, you are clearly wrong. True friendship is valuing the person because they are made in God’s image and worthy of loyalty, love and respect. A Christian stands by his friends in tough times and is there to comfort them in difficulties, confront them when they are wrong and laugh with them in times of joy. We build and maintain godly friendships by communicating loyalty and love.