The Blessings and Hazards of Companionship

April 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“Don’t cave in to peer pressure.”
“Don’t run with the wrong crowd.”
“Be a leader, not a follower.”
“If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”

Such are some of the worldly cautions about carefully and wisely choosing your friends. The Bible says it like this:

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

The Lord tells us to “walk with” wise men. This is obviously not a reference to the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. It is a reference to those with whom we spend time on a daily basis, and with whom we form bonds of friendship. We are to join ourselves to friends who are “wise,” and those who are truly wise are those who follow the teachings of God found in the Bible.

The flip side of this advice to walk with wise men is the warning to avoid the companionship of fools. Fools are those who refuse to acknowledge God.

The consequences of ignoring Proverbs 13:20 are dire. Those who fall in with a company of fools are not promised a period of trial-and-error, or even a second chance. The outcome of making a wrong decision about our friends is “destruction,” and destruction, in the Bible, is a thing that may come suddenly, without warning. Destruction speaks of finality and utter obliteration. It is a serious warning.

For those of us with junior high or high school aged children, we need to be especially careful of modern Christendom’s “youth group” or “teen ministry” mentality, which says that children (characterized in the Bible as “simple” or “foolish”) need to find their primary sense of belonging with others of their own age. The children which God has entrusted to our care need to “walk with” and learn from men and women of “wisdom:” those who have reached a level of Christian maturity that causes them to base their attitudes and actions on Scriptural principles and precepts.

Christian F.R.I.E.N.D.S.hip (Part 1)

November 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Bible has much to say about friends, and friendship is encouraged in Scripture, but choosing the wrong friend can be dangerous.

But Amnon had a friend, whose name [was] Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab [was] a very subtil man.

II Samuel 13:3 (emphasis added)

Christians are supposed to have friends and we are supposed to be friends. Did you know there is a difference between being friends with someone and being a friend to someone?

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

II Corinthians 6:14

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

As Christians, we are not supposed to get involved in the sinful activities of non-Christians, which means you really shouldn’t be friends with non-Christians, but you definitely should be a friend to all sorts of non-Christians. Therefore, we serve and love them, but we shouldn’t compromise our stand for Jesus, and we should make sure they know that our loyalty to Christ comes before our loyalty to them. So, if a lost person falls down, you help him up – that’s being a friend to him; but if he fell down because he was doing something wrong, you don’t start doing it too, because that would make you friends with him.

Let’s look at what it takes to be friends with another Christian.

F.orgiving

One of the most important things to remember about being a Christian is that you are a forgiven sinner. You can’t be a Christian without acknowledging your sinfulness. Therefore, when two Christians are friends, that means two sinners have become friends. And sinners sometimes sin against each other. Friends make mistakes, they hurt each other’s feelings, they say the wrong thing, they let each other down sometimes. But if they are truly friends they respond to the sin of their friend the way that Jesus responds to our sins.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

If your friend is a Christian, then that means God punished Jesus on the Cross for what your friend has done wrong to you. Would it be right for you to punish your friend for something for which God has already punished Jesus? No. Be a good friend. Be forgiving. Be gracious. Be merciful.

R.esponsive

Being a good friend doesn’t mean you always do what your friend wants you to do, but it does mean that you respond when your friend has a real need.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Luke 11:5-8

A good friend listens; he doesn’t just wait for his turn to talk. Even though listening is important, “doing” is usually the most significant part of service in Christian friendship, but not just “doing something.” They key is in doing what’s right for your friend in each situation – which means listening closely when your friend has something to say. Anybody can talk; it takes skill and patience to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth – some of us need to take the hint.

I.nsightful

A good friend is someone who gives good advice. That means he evaluates what’s going on, and then finds out what the Bible has to say about something before he just blurts out whatever comes to mind.

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so [doth] the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:9

Things that smell good are attractive – and they make people happy. The insight of a friend is the same way. “Hearty counsel” means insight or advice that turns out to be right. A good friend will pray about it, seek God’s will about it, look in the Bible, talk to someone wise about it, then carefully give good counsel. A bad friend says let’s just do the first thing that seems right, or let’s just do what everyone else does in this situation.

You can probably tell by now that I’m using an acrostic – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. – to list some qualifications of Christian friendship. Next time, we will look at the E.N.D.S.

What Kind of a Friend Are You?

April 4, 2013 at 10:27 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Here we go again. Another well-intentioned burst of drivel has been making the rounds on Facebook. And, once again, there is no surprise that the average person would find a statement like this to be perfectly wonderful. But a professing Christian? Someone who actually claims to believe the Bible? As they say on Monday Night Football: C’mon, man!!”

I don’t care what you earn, where you live, what you drive, whether you’re gay or straight, fat or thin, tall or short, beautiful or average, rich or poor, smart or not. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend – I accept you for who you are and that’s ALL that matters.

Christian Facebook Fail

There is a classic logical fallacy known as a “category mistake.” Or, as they used to call it on Sesame Street back when I was in preschool: “Which one of these is not like the others?” You know the one: They show you three farm animals and a vine-ripened tomato, and you put down your cup of grape juice, hitch up your underoos, point at the TV screen and shout, “Tomato!” Or they put the number 4 into a group of letters: A,L,Q,4. You clap your hands, somersault out of your blankie, and proclaim, “Hey, you can’t fool me. Get that numeral outta there!” Easy enough, right? So, let’s play the game with the above statement, shall we?

The idea of the quote is that “if you’re my friend, you’re my friend.” When you click “share” or post it to your wall, it’s your way of bragging to the world what a loyal, non-judgmental friend you are. Now, let’s stand it beside the Bible and see how it measures up.

“I don’t care what you earn, where you live, what you drive.” Does Jesus want me to base my loyalty on the robustness of my friends’ bank accounts, how prestigious a neighborhood they live in, or how expensive their car is? Nope. See James 2:2-5. So far, so good.

“I don’t care whether you’re fat or thin, tall or short, beautiful or average, smart or not.” How about this one? Does the Bible support discriminating against people in an unkind way based on their physical appearance or their IQ? Certainly not. See I Corinthians 4:7 and Galatians 3:28. Again, nothing to see here, move along folks. Just a harmless quote about how we should treat our friends kindly despite our circumstantial differences. After all, the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

But hold on a minute, I left one out, didn’t I? Remember, we’re trying to spot the category mistake. The “one that’s not like the others.”

“I don’t care whether you’re gay or straight.” Ah-ha, you found it! Maybe it took a little while, but we’re talking about “Christians” posting this on their Facebook page, remember? Christians? Those people that believe that Jesus died to pay the price for their SINS? See, social standing, wealth, height, and home- and car-ownership are not sinful. Identifying yourself as “gay” is. So for me to have a friend who is “gay,” and for me to then say, “I accept you for who you are and that’s ALL that matters,” is completely unbiblical – not to mention cruel and unloving – and certainly nothing to be proud of. Because if I am truly your friend, then what matters most to me is your relationship with God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, I want you to know what the Bible says, and I want to tell you, in a kind but serious way, that Jesus paid the price so that we can be set free from our selfish, sinful desires. I want to lovingly expose the deadly lie that we should proudly identify ourselves with our sin, and seek to be accepted and approved in it. Christians are not supposed to just “have friends” or even “accept their friends.” We are supposed to love our friends. Real love deals in honesty.

Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:5-6

Beware of Fabrics, Frolicking, and Friends

October 18, 2010 at 9:36 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical friendship, Genesis | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Joseph was sold into slavery at about age 17. He reached the throne of Egypt at around 30. The narrative account of Joseph is put on hold for a little while in Genesis Chapter 38.

Garments or raiment or clothes or coats are a big deal in Genesis. Judah was deceived by his daughter-in-law Tamar while he was at Timnath for sheep-shearing. Getting fleece for garments, he was deceived by a garment. Isaac had been deceived by a garment when Jacob dressed up like Esau. Jacob was deceived by a garment at least once (Joseph’s torn coat), and maybe twice (his first wedding night). There is often a discernible symmetry when God applies his principle of reaping and sowing. God Law says that our coverings should be distinct, and He is the only One Who is never truly fooled by outward garments, which He establishes early on in the account of Adam and Eve (fig leaves versus animal skins).

Genesis 38 also gives us the account of the infamous “sin of Onan.”

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him.

Genesis 38:6-7

This brought into play what is called the “levirate” (Latin for brother-in-law) marriage. The sin of Onan is difficult to discuss in mixed company, although the text makes it plain enough. When people who are supposed to be spiritual and faithful to God get involved with the world, the result is often some kind of sexual sin.

And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.

Genesis 38:1

“Turned in to” is a helpful play on words. The Hebrew word for “turned” is “natah.” It means more than just to change directions; it means “to incline to;” “to bend to the will;” “to pervert.” Judah “turned in to (into) a certain Adullamite.”

“Hirah” meant “a nobleman” of the Canannites.

And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.

Genesis 38:2

“Shuah” meant “wealth.”

And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.

Genesis 38:3

“Er” meant “awake.”

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.

Genesis 38:4

“Onan” meant “strong.”

And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah [a petition]: and he was at Chezib [false], when she bare him.

Genesis 38:5, parentheses added

Judah’s family was getting more and more worldly as he looked for wealth and strength and influence and deception.

God killed Er because He did evil in the sight of the Lord. He was “awake” – aware of what he was doing and he did it openly. All evil is done in the sight of the Lord. He sees everything, but some people take special pleasure in wickedly defying Him.

Judah ended up being deceived by his daughter-in-law, Tamar, thinking she was a harlot – a prostitute. He tried to buy his way out of it when she got pregnant, and his sin was ultimately exposed.

Tamar delivered twins, and they struggled in their birth the way Jacob and Esau did. The baby with the scarlet thread came out second.

I just want to make one other point before we move on to Genesis Chapter 39 next time.

And in process of time the daughter of Shuah Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnath, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

Genesis 38:12, emphasis added

And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand: but he found her not.

Genesis 38:20, emphasis added

And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man. And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.

II Samuel 13:2-4, emphasis added

Choose your friends carefully.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20


Entries and comments feeds.