Summary: How can you tell a real friend? Solomon gives us some concrete answers, and they may surprise you!
1. Illus. of Don Johnson
• Actor best know for his roles in Miami Vice and Nash Bridges.
• Back in the 70’s went through a truckload of cocaine and alcohol. He wrecked a half dozen cars, etc.
• In 1983 checked into a rehab center and got clean. Turned his life around.
• A reporter asked him if he had any regrets. He said, “Yeah, I regret spending 10 years with a group of people I wouldn’t spend 10 minutes with now!”
• He learned a lesson the hard way- chose your friends carefully, or you may find yourself in trouble!
2. There is an innate desire in all of us to have at least one real, genuine friend. We desire the companionship and fellowship of a friend. Like Don Johnson that desire sometimes gets us into trouble because we choose the wrong people as friends.
3. Solomon had a lot to say about friendship. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Solomon talks a lot about the down to earth matters of life- controlling your speech, avoiding temptation, managing your money, and picking your friends. One of the main lessons he teaches is the one in our text. The righteous must be very careful in picking their friends, because of the impact our friends have on our lives.
4. Text: Solomon describes the characteristics of the kind of friends the righteous should seek out.
5. Today: We need to evaluate our “friends” and make sure they have the biblical characteristics Solomon talks about. If they do not, we should prayerfully consider dropping out of their circle of influence.
6. What are these characteristics?
I. A REAL FRIEND IS A POSITIVE INFLUENCE
1. See 27:17. When iron is rubbed against another piece of iron, it shapes and sharpens it. Just like that, a real friend will sharpen (improve in some way) his friend. A real friend will have a positive impact on your life!
2. When someone genuinely cares about you, they will help you seek out what is best and good in life. If they’re more interested in helping you seek out what is worst and bad in life, they really don’t care about you. They’re just wanting company on the road to destruction!
3. Principle: a real friend is a person who wants to have a positive impact on your life.
4. Illus. of my old drinking buddies
• I was headed nowhere fast before I got saved. Had a bunch of friends who loved to party and have a “good time.”
• When I quit all that, they didn’t say, “good for you.” They kept trying to get me to go back to the old ways.
• One day I realized these people were not my friends. They didn’t care about me. They just wanted company on the road to destruction!
5. When evaluating your friends, ask yourself, “am I a better Christian when I hang out this person? Do they have a positive influence in my life? Or is it that I tempted to talk wrong, act wrong, or feel wrong after I’ve been with them?” If they are not a positive influence, you might want to consider dropping them from your circle of friends.
II. A REAL FRIEND WILL SUPPORT YOU IN THE TOUGH TIMES
1. See 17:17. A real friend loves and supports at all times- even the times of adversity. Solomon is saying, “there is a simple test that will allow you to find out who your real friends are. Get in a mess of trouble, then just look around. Those people who are standing beside you are your real friends!”
2. Principle: Don’t surround yourself with fair weather friends. Surround yourself with people who will stand by you, even in the tough times!
3. Illus. of Lone ranger and Tonto
• Surround by 10,000 indians on left, right, front, and behind.
• “Old friend, it looks like we’re in a mess of trouble.”
• Tonto says, “ugh. What you mean we, paleface?”
• That’s exactly the attitude Solomon is warning us about!
4. See II Timothy 1:15. This would include many that once supported him. It would include those in the church he had started and pastored in Ephesus. These Ephesians had wept and begged him not to go to Rome, telling him repeatedly of their undying love and friendship. Once he was arrested and put in jail, they deserted him!
5. Look at your circle of friends. Have they stood by you in the hard, tough times? Would they? If the answer is no, might want to prayerfully consider dropping them from your circle of friends.
III. A REAL FRIEND WILL TELL YOU THE TRUTH, EVEN WHEN IT HURTS
1. See 27:5-6. When the situation calls for it, someone who genuinely loves you will tell you the truth- even if it hurts! But do you know what? You can trust the wounds caused by a real friend!