Summary: Using mainly the book of Proverbs this is a topical message about what to look for in choosing our closest friends
Finding The Proverbial Friend
Introduction: In a survey of more than 40,000, Americans said these were most valued in a friend.
1. The ability to keep confidences 2. Loyalty 3. Warmth & Affection. In this digital age of smart phones, iPods, and computers, it is easy to lose that much needed physical connection to friends. In the rush for convenience we text instead of call, we send a card instead of visit, we send an email instead of having lunch. You may notice that the same person who wants to be your friend on facebook won't say 2 words to you in public. We are rapidly withdrawing from one another either because of laziness, selfishness, skepticism or lack of trust.
Lee Strobel writes: “People today will admit any problem - drugs, divorce, alcoholism - "but there’s one admission that people are loath to make, whether they’re a star on television or someone who fixes televisions in a repair shop. It’s just too embarrassing. It penetrates too deeply to the core of who they are." People don’t want to admit that they are (sometimes) lonely. "Loneliness is such a humiliating malady that it ought to have its own politically correct euphemism: 'relationally challenged.' Or its own telethon. Anything to make it safer to confess (that we are lonely.)
Because right now it’s a taboo, an affliction of losers and misfits. And - to be honest - of respectable people like you and me." (SOURCE: Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, p. 118-134.)
That's why we need friends. We need someone to encourage and inspire us and experience and share this journey of life with us. We need someone besides our family that we can share our victories and our trials with. We need someone to confide in, to know that someone understands, that someone cares, that someone feels what we do. We need someone who shares our pains, our views, our passions, our hobbies, etc. C.S. Lewis said “friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.”
Transition: When we are looking for a friend we have to ask ourselves “Are we influencing them or are they influencing us?” There is a lot written about the subject of friends in the book of proverbs, so it's the perfect place to find what to avoid and what to look for when looking for a friend.
I. Friends we want to Avoid
A. We want to avoid the Angry Friend
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,”
Ill. A man, who never seemed to be able to make or keep friends, went to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was interviewing him, but failed to catch something their man said and asked: “would you mind repeating that please?”
“What are you . . deaf or just dumb? I said . . for some reason I can't make any friends, you blooming idiot!”
Well we won't make many friends by being Angry. You want to avoid someone who is easily provoked, very touchy, and deeply resents being offended. These people are the short-fused sort that when they are in a passion they don't think nor care about what they say or do. They don't care if what they say hurts you, they don't care if what they do offends you. Their anger grows to rage and their rage grows outrageousness. If you make the short-tempered person your friend, it won't be long before they will be angry at you because you won't join them in their anger at others. But the moment you try to appease them by joining in their anger, you also join in their sin. And for this reason we need to avoid the angry friend.
B. We want to avoid the gossiping Friend
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” -Proverbs 20:19
There is an old saying: “A friend is a person who does his knocking before he enters instead of after he leaves.”
Gossipers are very friendly and they have a talent to lift you up with their praise & flattery. They have a gift of maneuvering themselves into a position of favor by subtle manipulation. They insinuate themselves into your acquaintance. They worm their way into your favor with their pleasantries. They share stories that are designed to cause trouble with other people. You may hold your mother, father, pastor, elder, deacon, co-worker in high esteem, but after listening to these people, they would have you convinced they're not only not worth admiring, but they should be doubted or even despised.
These people promise to keep a secret but reveal the secret the next day. They assume they know what men think but spread what is false. And we need to politely avoid these people and we certainly don't want to make them our closest friends because you can be sure that if they are betraying secrets TO you, they are also betraying secrets ABOUT you! If they talk about others to you, they will talk about you to others.