Friend of sinners, thank You that You have come near. Thank You for the lengths You went to to call me friend.
What do the proverbs point to as the characteristics of a friend?
The need for human companionship is a theme that runs throughout Scripture from Genesis ("It is not good for the man to be alone," 2:18), via Ecclesiastes ("Two are better than one," 4:9), to the vision of "a great multitude" of people in God's presence (Rev. 7:9). God designed us as social beings.
Proverbs, however, provides a reality check. Even with many friends, a spouse included (22), ruin may still come (24). Airing our own opinions, being gossipy, lazy, or proud, and speaking before listening (2,6,8,9,12,13) may create huge barriers to friendship (19). In addition, old age, illness, family breakdown, bereavement, and other factors may rob us of friends.
Still, are your friendships in good repair? Do you service them prayerfully or expect others always to take the initiative? Be careful: you may be headed for isolation and loneliness (1).
Of course, some friends are incredibly robust (17:17), sticking closer than a brother (18:24). And no friend compares with "the friend of sinners" (Luke 7:34) who, come what may, always sticks by those who follow him (Heb. 13:5).
Make a list of your closest friends. Do they have the characteristics of faithful friends? Are you faithful as well?
Jesus, convict my heart and help me to change, so that I may be a friend who accurately reflects You.
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