Part 5 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.
Everyone knows someone who can’t pick a good friend to save his life. Let’s be honest.
The married guy picks friends who go to the bar every night and play Xbox as he ignores his son who’s ready to play ball outside. The married woman befriends divorced women who drink too much cheap wine and tell her it’s time for a younger man. The kid in high school is only friends with the star quarterback because he knows the right answers to the test. The junior high girl sits at lunch with the popular girls who gossip and slander every other girl because their jeans are “so last year.”
Now the point is not that we stay away from people like this. The problem is not conversation or acquaintance or even the occasional hang-out. Jesus hung out with “losers.” These kinds of friends need the gospel just as much as we do.
The problem arises when bad friends replace our inner circle of godly, wise friends. The real problem happens when they replace Scripture and Jesus-loving friends as they try to get us to worship idols.
Over 25 passages (not verses) in Proverbs talk about friendship. In the first chapter, Solomon writes to his son, “If sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason”…do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths” (v. 10-11, 15). It might not be murder like this case, but it might be continual gossip, slander, hate-speech, complaining, quarreling, alcohol, drugs, sex, or entertainment. All those things lead to bloodshed – both your own and someone else’s.
In 13:20, Solomon says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” I know that somebody will argue, “But I share my faith with my friends! You need to be around non-Christians more!” I’m not arguing against that. But remember that Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33). We must minister to non-Christians. But when they become our inner circle, our wise counsel, or our support during trial, we will be overcome by their foolishness and become fools ourselves.
Solomon also gives instruction for how to be a good friend. In 25:17 he advises us, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” This means don’t invite yourself to his house for every football game. Later in 27:14 he writes, “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” That means don’t try to bless your neighbor by mowing his lawn at 7 am when it’s his only day off for the whole month.
Finally, Solomon tells us that a good friend can gently rebuke us for our good: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” A true friend is one who can honestly call out sin and folly in your life. Do your friends point you to Jesus when you need it most? Or do they point you to every possible idol and encourage you to worship at the altar of demons?