In our study of Proverbs thus far, we have seen that wisdom requires…
a. Fearing the Lord, so that we heed His Word – Pro 1:7
b. Respecting our parents, so that we listen to their advice – Pro 1:8-9
What about our friends…? Our peers with whom we spend so much time?
Might they not be a source of good counsel or wisdom?
Obviously, they can according to Proverbs 27:9. However, acquiring the wrong kind of friends needs to be avoided. While we may not be able to pick our family members, we can pick our friends. The wrong kind of friends must be avoided. By choosing our friends carefully we avoid association with evil. When I first heard this concept I was like “really?”. I wanted to have a broad variety of friends with even broader interests. I found out two things quickly, all my friends were not always completely honest with me and they were not always concerned about my best interests. When it came to my family responsibilities or work responsibilities, they pulled me in a direction that I did not always want to go and put me in positions that made me uncomfortable. However, for some time I allowed their influence over me to create conflict in just about all areas of my life. What I found was I had to choose my own path and resist the “enticement” as stated in Proverbs 1:10. Over time my list of “friends” went down dramatically, as well as the amount of conflict in about every other area of my life. The two were tied together in more ways than I ever imagined.
Here are the helpful ways I learned to manage this issue.
A. AVOID THEM (Simply learn to say “No”)
1. A father’s advice: “If sinners entice you, do not consent” – Pro 1:10
2. Especially when they seek to entice you to do evil – Pro 1:11-12
3. When they tempt you with promises of easy gain – Pro 1:13-14
In some cases when I was conflicted, I would even delay decisions for 24 hours while you consider them more thoughtfully. Not every decision has to be made spur of the moment.
B. DO NOT WALK WITH THEM…
1. Keep away from such “friends” who are quick to do evil – Pro 1:15-16
2. Their efforts are ultimately in vain – Pro 1:17
3. Eventually they will pay with their own lives – Pro 1:18-19
C. THEY PERSUADE THROUGH ENTICEMENT…
1. Like the serpent tempted Eve, sinful friends will appeal to:
a. The lust of the flesh (“good for food”)
b. The lust of the eyes (“pleasant to the eyes”)
c. The pride of life (“desirable to make one wise”)
2. Evil friends will offer easy gain
a. Such as wealth without work
b. Such as pleasure without commitment
c. Such as companionship without cost
It sounds so good and easy, doesn’t it?
The reality is that it is empty and leads to destruction, which in this case is eternal and permanent separation from God. Keep in mind the discussion last post ” we are born with a sin nature and we must resist it”. This takes an incredible amount of will power. An amount we cannot muster on our own as human beings. Anyone who reads the Bible with any kind of understanding recognizes that man and God are not on the same wavelength. They are estranged from one another. Despite so little being written about the separation, a great deal is written about how the two will be reconciled. The Bible is one of the very few places that actually clearly states why the separation exists: because of man’s hostility toward God. Paul states in Romans 8:7 that the carnal mind (our sin nature) is enmity, hostile, against God, and that hostility, he writes in Ephesians 2:2, is motivated by “the prince of the power of the air ” (This is a name for Satan). Satan has deceived all of mankind from Adam and Eve forward. (See Revelation 12:9)
However, with the help of Jesus through a belief and trust in Him can reconcile us to God. Then through obedience to the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) we are able to live a different life. We still have the sin nature and will sin, but we have access to forgiveness (Jesus) and strength to overcome our desires as we grow in our new spiritual nature (Holy Spirit).
Final thought: Run from evil. That includes friends that create problems for you or put you in situations that will compromise your standards or lifestyle. Evil men will run to evil, but we must run from it. Men love it and it is in sync with their nature. They do not see it as something “wrong”. Yet, our new nature that allows us to be free of this bondage, requires us to be discerning and use God’s Wisdom to make wise decisions about this difficult process. If we are not careful and thoughtful in this process it will bring great evil upon us and our reputation.