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.
It's inevitable that those who talk too much will eventually, either intentionally at unintentionally will let something slip that shouldn't be heard,
Ill. During WWII, there was a campaign to advice servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be of use to the enemy: the most famous slogan during this campaign was “Loose lips sink ships” - the point of the slogan was a warning to military families and those privy to ship movements that if they talk too much about it the enemy will eventually intercept the information and possibly destroy the ships. (wickipedia: 'loose lips sink ships')
What you say doesn't go into a vacuum. Proverbs 10:19 NAS “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable but He who restrains his lips is wise.”
A wise man is careful about what He says, knowing there is a possibilty of his words being misrepresented. It is good to say little. Our friends should be judicious with their words, not idle babblers.
C. We need to avoid False Christians
“having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
-2 Timothy 3:5
There is a certain type that takes on a “form of godliness” they claim to be Christian. But in their actions they “deny the power thereof ” by pretending a right way of worshiping God but in practice deny all godliness. In urban terms: “they have no street cred”. They talk the talk but don't walk the walk. These are the so called Christians that A.W. Tozer meant when he famously said, “Christians don't tell lies they just go to church and sing them.”
These professed believers assume that a form of godliness will take away their reproach; but they won't submit to the power of it to take away their sin.
There is a big difference in 'having a form of godliness' and 'having the power of godliness'
The tares have a form of godliness, and so do the goats but the wheat and the sheep have the power of godliness. False Christians have a form of godliness but are totally destitute of the power of it. We should avoid making our our clsest friends those who don't take their faith seriously.
D. We want to avoid the foolish Friend
“Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” -Proverbs 14:7
If you can perceive that they don't cherish God, and if they are not edifying or encouraging but instead you notice they are corrupting. And If you come to the conclusion that their fruit is bad and there is no spiritual benefit by their company, only the danger of getting hurt by it, then it's best to walk away.
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” -Proverbs 18:2
Opinionated people are apt to be fools – they are eager to broadcast their view on anything and everything.
Some people just want to be heard but don't want to listen, they don't want to listen because they dont want to learn. You can't teach a fool anything because they are convinced they know everything already. Proverbs says “a fool says in his heart there is no God.” A fool may proclaim with their lips but in their heart they deny him. Sharing godly truth and biblical wisdom with fools is, as Jesus said, like giving dogs what is sacred or throwing your pearls to the pigs. (They attempt to make fools of others but make a fool of themselves in the process.)
“walk with the wise and become wise for a company of fools suffers harm.” -Proverbs 13:20
Remember You are known by the company you keep. Those that want to be wise choose wise friends. Think how many good people get into trouble by hanging around the wrong crowd.
Did you know that children who see physical violence between their parents are 6 times more likely to abuse their own spouses after they marry. If those children were also hit by their parents as teenagers, they are 12 times more likely to abase their spouses. (Homeade November 1985). Our associations mold us. Paul wrote: "Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.” -I Cor. 15:33
If one bad apple can spoil the barrel, what do you suppose will happen if you throw a good apple in the barrel? George Washington said “Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your reputation. For it's better to be alone than in bad company.”
Transition: Now that we've seen who to avoid making our closest confidants, we will look at what friends we want and what friends we want to be.
II. The Friend we want is the friend we want to be
“So in everything, Do to others as you would have them do to you, . .” -Matthew 7:12
An unknown poet wrote
“I went out to find a friend.
But could not find one there
I went out to be a friend
and found friends everywhere.”
We want to be the type of friend that we want a friend to be to us. That is first of all . . .
A. A Friend that is loyal
Someone once said “Prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them.”
That is definitely true. How many lottery winners realize how many long lost relatives they had after winning the power-ball? The prodigal son after receiving his wealthy inheritance had many friends also. It seems everyone is your friend when you are the one buying the drinks. But once the wealth is gone so are their friends. A true friend is a loyal one.
The Gods Word translation puts it like this - “Do not abandon your friend or your father's friend. DO not go to a relative's home when you are in trouble. A neighbor living nearby is better than a relative far away.” -Proverbs 27:10
We want to have a friend that is never far away. I'm not suggesting we can never move away from our friends, I'm simply saying that even if many miles separate us, we know that if we were in an accident or during tragedy they would either be the there or they would be on their way. That's loyalty.
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24
Ill. A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers the winning definition read: “A friend is the one who comes in, when the whole world has gone out.” (Bits & Pieces – July 1991)
True friends are loyal they are not leeches. Did you ever have a leech for a friend? They suck the life out of you. When they call or visit, they offer nothing for you, but you can be sure they either want or need something from you. The only time you hear from them is when a favor is needed, or when they need money, or you have something they want to borrow, etc.
Asking for prayer is different, I like praying for people. We should ask our friends to pray for us or others. That's what friends do, but constantly asking for favors, money, things, etc. can be draining! We want giving friends, so we should be a giving friend.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.” -Phil. 2:4
Dale Carniegie said “You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in people, than you can in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in you.” (goodreads: Dale Carnegie, how to win friends and influences people)
A small boy defined a friend as “Someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same.” We want loyal friends so lets be loyal friends. We also want to have and want to be . . .
B) A Friend that is Honest
Someone once said "Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it will always get you the right ones."
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” -Proverbs 27:6
A friend will be honest about your faults. It is a sign that they love your soul. Would you rather have a doctor who saw cancer in your body and didn't want to offend you so they told you - “you are just fine.” or the doctor who told you the painful news so they could get it treated before it killed you.
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” -Nornman Vincent Peale
Warning a friend of the calamity of sin is a sign of a true friend. But it must be done from a loving heart. Galatians 6:1 says “. . . restore that person gently. .” We have to use wisdom and grace when we reprove our friends – if we don't, they will not take it well and Proverbs 18:19 says “an offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city . . .”
A.W. Tozer said “A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”
A loving person won't ignore the wrong but will take great pains to draw attention to it with loving grace. The sincerity of your heart will determine what side of the line of between being honest or being rude you are on. And finally we want to have and want to be . . .
C) A friend that loves
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” -Pro. 17:17
Friends love at all times. It really isn't true friendship when friendship is conditional. Those that are selfish in their friendships will only love their friends as long as they are getting something out of the friendship. We don't like friends like that, so let's not be friends like that.
Ill. Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball's color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. The shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced and then faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder, saved his career. (sermonillustrations.com)
A friend loves at all times. There are those who might call themselves a friend but their affections turn with the wind and change with the weather. They are like ducks that flock in during the summer but fly south in the winter. As long as everything seems pleasant to them, they will hang around. But at the first sign of danger or trouble coming, you can count on them fluttering away like a covey of quail. It's no loss at all, to lose a “friend” like that.
But if I love my friend because he is wise, virtuous, and good, and as long as he stays that way even though he might fall into poverty, ridicule, disgrace, or trying times, I will still love him.
This proverb compares a friend with a brother and points out that a true friend will be there when your siblings might not. Matthew Poole puts it this way “A friend does freely by choice, what a brother will do by obligation of nature.”
Conclusion: We want to be friendly to everyone, after all we are commanded to love even our enemies, but we want our closest friends to be men and women of high moral character. “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” -Pr. 27:17 We don't want to be made dull with other people's anger, mischief, doubt, or foolish talk. No, we are to make each other wiser, better, sharper in the faith.
Our greatest friend is one who will never leave us, abandons us, nor forsake us, one who sticks closer than a brother, one that would lay down his life for his friends, one that doesn't insult us but encourages us, one that doesn't call us names but calls us his friends. Oh! What a friend we have in Jesus!