Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friendships - Proverbs, part 5

Why do you spend time with the friends you have? Think about this for a moment. Why?

None of us wants to be lonely. In fact we know from Scripture that God made us to be in relationship.

What did God say after He made Adam? “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So relationships are God’s idea. I mean think about it, when God saves us as individuals he saves us into something. What is that something? Answer: The church – the assembled/called out people of God. We are not saved to just go on our merry way all by ourselves, but rather we are called into a people, a family who are to seek to glorify God together.

So our relationships are important to God and they should be important to us.

Well let’s spend a bit of time gaining God’s wisdom for our lives in the area of friendships. Remember, this is God’s idea and it was meant for our good and His glory, so we would do well to listen to Him.

The Influence of Friends

First we are going to talk about the influence of friends. How much do you think your friendships influence you? Often our style of dress, the activities we engage in, the places we go, and the values we hold are being shaped by our relationships and we may not even realize it.

God knows that who we spend time with will influence us. Consider these texts:

Prov. 28:7 The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

Prov. 29:3 He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

Prov. 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Prov. 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

In short – you will be influenced by who you spend time with. So, how should this affect how you choose friends?

Characteristics of Friends

Now, let’s think about characteristics of friends. What makes a good or bad friend?

Consider these verses:

Prov. 27:10a Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend.
They stick with you. This is not always easy. What about when you do something wrong or embarrassing, will they still be by your side. A good friend sticks with you.

Prov. 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
They forgive real offenses. Do friends sometimes do things wrong? Yes. A good friend will try to salvage a relationship and forgive.

Prov. 24:28 Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
A good friend is honest. They won’t speak against you without a good reason.

Prov. 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
A good friend will get in your face when you need it. They’ll do what’s good for you, not merely tell you what you want to hear. I am right now reaching out to a friend who I’ve discovered is struggling with pornography. I could easily turn my head and ignore it but I care too much for him.

Prov. 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
A good friend gives good counsel. Think about your friendships, are the things your friends are telling you to do good or not?

Heb. 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

A good friend will point you away from the deceitfulness of sin, will point you to Christ, to living for what really matters.

The Goal of Friends

Lastly, let’s think about the goal of friends. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever stopped to consider that you should be intentional as a friend?  I think we usually just have friends because we enjoy being with them. But, is this really all it’s about? Is there no higher purpose?

Let’s back this up to the bigger picture. What is our goal supposed to be for everything in life? Answer: to glorify God! So, should your friendships be any different?

How can you glorify God in friendships? Look back at the verses from Hebrews. What do we see? Exhorting away from sin – stirring up to love and good deeds – meeting together with the purpose of pointing to Christ and His return.

What about you?

Are you intentional in your relationships? Or are you just there for what you can get out of it? Really think about this.

Maybe you need to repent concerning how you’ve been handling relationships. Probably most of you need this. You need to again see how you’ve not walked in God’s way – you have sinned against Him. You need to recognize this and turn from it and again look to the cross of Christ – this amazing God-man who took our sins upon Himself and took God’s wrath in our place and then He rose from the dead to give us new life.

You see, God cares about your relationships. He cares about how you behave in relationships. Will you seek to glorify Him?

We need to remember that the book of Proverbs was written to help us live our lives in a way that pleases God and is profitable to us. Don’t be a fool. Be wise in your relationships.


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