July 3, 2012


            Fortunate is the person who has many friends.  We do well to value our friends as the virtuous woman is valued in Proverbs chapter 31.  Verse10 says “Her value is far above rubies.” Every good thing has its price.  That’s also true of friends.  In chapter 27 of Proverbs Salomon gives us some good advice about how we should treat our friends.

The first bit of advice is found in verse 9.  “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”  Why do we anoint our bodies with perfume?  It’s not just to cover up a bad odor.  Perfume has a pleasing odor.  Perfume creates a pleasing environment around us.  It’s more pleasing to be in our presence.  Our perfume communicates a message to our friends.  It says to them.  “Relax, you’re in the presence of a friend.” Their heart will rejoice when they are in your presence.

Our hearty counsel will be as  sweetness to our friend.  Giving counsel to a friend shows our concern for his well being.  We need not insist that he accept our counsel unless he is thinking of doing something that would be detrimental to him or others.  We learn by living.  What we have learned we can share with our friends so they can learn from our experience.  It may be that the advice we give our friend would not be the best for him in his present situation.  We shouldn’t be offended if he doesn’t accept our counsel.

In verse 10 Salomon gives us another bit of advice about how we should treat our friends.  “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not.”  He says don’t forsake them.  He who is my friend should be my friend for life.  Of course, there are circumstances that obligate us to break friendships, but I believe Salomon is saying that it shouldn’t be for our negligence.  It’s unfortunate that some people prefer to have just one friend at a time and they give all their attention to him or her.  If they perceive that someone else has more to offer them than the friend they now have, they drop him in preference to the new friend.  Their friends are disposable.  It’s to our advantage to have a host of friends.  Of course, we will be more intimate with some.  Because of circumstances and preferences, we will spend more time with some than others.

We should be extremely hesitant about breaking a friendship.  If a relationship is damaged we should do all we can to restore it. Sometimes it means we have to ask forgiveness.  At other times we have to forgive a friend.  Salomon says also that we shouldn’t abandon our parent’s friends.  It’s to our advantage to keep a good relationship with them.  We may need their love and help in a time of trial.

In verse 17 we find another bit of advice about our friendships.  “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. “ Meat cutters often stop to sharpen their knives.  Both the file and the knife are made of steel, but the one makes the other more useful.  That’s the way it is with our friends.  Sometimes they are the file and sometimes we are.  Without realizing it, our friends make a change in us.  If they are of a noble character they will help to develop that in us.  Sometimes we resist the changes our friends try to make in us.  For example, if you have the habit of using some profanity in your conversation, your friend may say “You know, you really shouldn’t use those words.” Perhaps you will get offended and think “He doesn’t respect me.” But no, he is trying to help you.  He wants to make you a better person.  In verse 6 Salomon said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Perhaps you perceive them as wounds, but they are for your good.

Since our friends have so much influence over us, we need to be extremely careful in whom we choose to be our friends.  In II Samuel 13:3 we read about Amnon.  “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtle man.”  He gave Amnon  advice that cost him his life

The best friends of a Christian should be his fellow Christians.  They have much in common.  Christ should be our best friend.  In John 15:15 Jesus calls us his friends.  “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”   Our friendship with him will make us more like him.

Those whom Jesus calls his friends are those who have received him as their Savior.  John 1:12 says they are the sons of God.  “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

Have you received him?  You can do it by coming to God as a repentant sinner and ask for his forgiveness, which will deliver you from sin’s condemnation.  John 3:18 says  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  If you receive Jesus as your Savior he will be your friend forever.

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