Sunday, March 5, 2017

The qualities of a good friend--or the lack thereof in a bad friend

Wow, I'm doing good, ain't I?? I've posted now for 3 weeks in a row! :D ;)

So today, I'm talking about friends. This is another lesson from our Sunday School class, so I can't claim this all as my own, but I thought it would be a good post.

Jumping right in. Proverbs 13:20 says: Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

This verse clearly says that if we hang out with wise people, the result is that we will become wise. If we hang out with foolish people, we will suffer harm. There is no middle ground here, a friend is either one or the other.

Lets see what Proverbs 22:24-25 says: Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

In this verse, there is a progression. First, you are just a companion of this man. Then you start to learn his ways. And then you become entangled in a snare.    If you think about it, a snare works by luring unsuspecting animals into them. So, most of the time, we might be unsuspecting of the effects of the person we are hanging out with. We need to be vigilant and watchful, and not choose our friends if they will have a negative effect on us.

It is obvious from these verses that our friends have an effect on us.

Where do we see some examples of this in the Bible? Samson and Delilah in Judges 14-16. Samson married Delilah--a Philistine. She influenced him negatively, and slowly but surely, caused him to disobey God and break the covenant he had made with God. He suffered greatly because of his poor choice.    There is the example of God telling Israel not to make a pact with a foreign nation, because God knew they would have a negative effect on His people. We are told in the Bible that Israel disobeyed God, made a pact with this nation, and learned idol worship from them. Countless times they did this, and they were given into the hands of their enemies as a result of their sinful actions and disobedient, rebellious, poor choices.    There is the example of Solomon, the wisest man in history. He married foreign women who influenced him for evil, causing him to reject the One true God and follow after the gods of his wives. You can read of this in 1 Kings 11.

Proverbs 27:9 : Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

Earnest--sincere, genuine, helpful in guidance and advice in the ways of God.  This is a quality of a good friend. One who is willing to genuinely point you back to God.

Romans 12:2 : Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern  what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Those who know Christ are transformed by His word and can discern what is good and bad.

So we see that our friends influence us, for evil or for good. But how do we choose a good friend? What are the qualities of a godly friend?  Well, lets see.

Romans 12:10 says this: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  

Quality #1. Love one another.

Romans 15:14: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Quality #2. Instruct one another.

2 Corinthians 13:11: Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Quality #3. Comfort one another.  If you read the verse above in the context of the chapter, you will see that it is in the context of restoration. This friend is not a person who comforts you in your sin and only tells you what you want to hear. That is not a good friend, and is one to be warned against.

Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Quality #4. Serve one another.   A good friend will look past themselves and their own gain. They will serve with a sincere heart that desires the best for the other.

Galatians 6:2: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Quality #5. Bear one another's burdens.   To bear means to divide the load between you, to assist them in carrying their burden.

Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, forgiving one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Quality #6. Be kind to one another, and forgive one another.    Again, this is not selfishness. This friend is not looking to their own interest.

Colossians 3:9: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with it's practices.

Quality #7. Do not lie to one another.   If a friend is a good, sincere one, they will not be lying about others, lying about you, or trying to deceive you.

1 Thessalonians 5:11: Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Quality #8. Encourage and build up one another.    This doesn't mean that we agree with the foolish. We encourage one another and build one another up in Christ and His ways.

1 Thessalonians 5:15: See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Quality #9. Do good to one another.   How do we know what good is? If we are believers in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us, and He will help us know what good to do in a situation.  There are two good things that are always appropriate for any situation, however. That is 1). Point them to Christ, and 2). Pray for them.  

James 5:9: Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Quality #10.  Do not grumble against one another.  You know what's in a friend's heart if they are continually grumbling about this or that.

James 5:16: Therefor, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Quality #11. Pray for one another.  This is one of the best things you can for a friend and they can do for you.

These are some of the Biblical qualities of a friend and brother or sister in Christ. Do the people that we hang out with and surround ourself with have these qualities? Are they influencing us for bad, or for good? Do we hang out with them because they are good influences on us and will do what they can to point us to Christ, or do we hang out with them just because they are fun to hang out with, even if they may have some really ungodly qualities--maybe no godly qualities at all?  

Secondarily, what kind of influence are you having on your friends?  Are you being a good, godly friend who does not look out for your own gain and interest, but rather for the good of others and the honoring of God?   It is easy to think, in this context, that we can hang out with people who have bad qualities--a person given to anger, a rebellious friend, etc.--because we can change them. It is true that we can have an influence on them, and we should be aware of that and seek to influence them for good. However, who we hang out with, also influences us.  The change is often subtle and we don't really realize it at first. So we also need to be aware of their influence on us. We may be able to befriend them to a degree and have a positive influence on them, but we need to be careful about how much time we spend with them.

What do you think about these things? What are some other qualities of a good friend that you can think of?

I hope you have a wonderful day!

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