Summary: Few things enrich life like a good friend. Hopefully through this study we will learn how to be a true friend as well as how to recognize a true friend.
PROVERBS 18: 24
A TRUE FRIEND
[1 Sam. 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:1-42; 2 Sam. 1:25ff]
Few things enrich life like a good friend. To have someone with whom you can share your deepest thoughts, feelings and longings –someone who can ask anything of you and of whom you can ask anything –provides a wonderful encouragement to the meaning and joy of life.
Most people do not have many close friends. It takes time, trust, and perseverance to develop meaningful relationships. To have friends, you must be a friend. But although making and sustaining friendships can be difficult, the benefits are tremendous.
In the Hebrew text the word used for neighbor and friend can be the same word ( -resa). Close physical proximity and closeness in relationship differ and the context determines which meaning should be used but we will look at uses were resa is translated both ways for our study. Being a true friend is much more than being neighborly but friendship starts by being neighborly with those God has placed in your path. Hopefully through this study we will learn how to be a true friend as well as how to recognize a true friend (CIM).
I. A TRUE FRIEND IS SENSITIVE.
II. DISTINGUISHING YOUR FRIENDS.
III. A TRUE FRIEND IS NOT CRITICAL BUT HONEST.
Proverbs 3:29 warns that participating in a plan that harms a friend violates his trust. "Do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives in security beside you."
This Proverb reminds us that we should never pose a threat to a person who is our friend. The realm of security extended to a friend should be emotional, psychological and physical. We should provide a relaxing, safe environment for those who are our friends or neighbors. A true friend does not betray a confidence. Friendship are build around trust so don't take advantage of it.
Proverbs 25:17 reveals that excessive frequency or length of time of visits is also an issue in nourishing a friendship. "Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor's / friends's house, lest he become weary of you and hate you."
A friendship can be ruined by failure to respect a friend's privacy and down times. "Familiarity breeds contempt" is the concept found here. If we are to grow we need room. This space comes from privacy and solitude. Too much closeness is oppressive and smothers the closest of relationships and should be avoided. A person should refrain from frequently visiting his friend, to avoid being a nuisance, but he should visit enough so that his visits are valued.
Proverbs 27:14 teaches that timing and sensitivity to others schedules is important. "He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him."
A man who forces his early morning boisterousness on another demonstrates his lack of sensitivity toward his friend. Your friend may need to warm up in the morning with a cup of coffee rather than be shocked awake by a jubilant greeting. A good friend is sensitive to the moods and needs of one he respects.
Proverbs 26:18-19 warns us not to try to avoid owning up to our actions by saying we were only joking. "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘was I not joking?'"
A good friend is sensitive enough to people and the situation to let us know when a joke or teasing is being carried too far. You all know of the reckless person who gets carried away and offends another and then replies "I was only kidding!" Such an excuse is totally inadequate especially if harm was done by the barbs. Friends help their friends fine tune their sensitivities and do not allow our irresponsible behavior to go on unrecognized for what it is. Like the prayer of the little boy who asked God to make the bad people good and good people nice. A true friend will not be insensitive to our sensitivities.
[Proverbs 14:21 warns us to be gracious to and not despise a poor friend. "He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor."
It has always been easy for those who are better off to take on a superior attitude toward the poor. Yet a true friend is gracious to the poor indicating that he does not reject the man who has fallen on hard times financially. He does not "rub it in" but treats him in a kind and encouraging manner. Notice the thought that being happy is the result of being gracious to the poor. If you don't have a happy disposition; it could be because you don't have enough poor friends.]
II. DISTINGUISHING YOUR FRIENDS
Some people have many friends but all friends are not alike. Proverbs 14:20 warns of wanting rich friends and refusing to associate with friends that are struggling. "The poor is hated even by his neighbor, but those who love the rich are many."