The Value of Friendship

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 26-30

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a day when friends gather and celebrate their friendships. This day marks the death of St. Patrick, a man who dedicated his life to sharing the gospel with others. As a young boy growing up in Britain, Patrick was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years of this imprisonment, he escaped and returned to Britain, later joining a monastery in France. Now a bishop, Patrick received God’s call to return to Ireland and tell them about God. He used the three-leafed shamrock to teach them about the Trinity and was known for his generosity toward others. He could have been bitter toward the Irish, but instead St. Patrick sought wisdom from God and chose to extend friendship to the country that had only seen him as a slave.
The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. – Proverbs 24:5

I want that kind of strength. I want to become wiser and wiser, which will make me stronger and stronger. Receiving wisdom is not a “once and done” gift. Wisdom is a gift we continually ask for – a gift that continues to strengthen us as we experience new situations.

King Solomon has three more areas or situations in which he gives advice in his book of Proverbs. The first is regarding friendships – the value of having a good friend and how to be a good friend.

A friend is always loyal,
and a brother is born to help in time of need (17:17).

The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life;
a wise person wins friends (11:30).

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven,
but dwelling on it separates close friends (17:9).

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends (16:28).

An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.
Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars (18:19).

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother (18:24).

Many seek favors from a ruler; everyone is the friend of a person who gives gifts (19:6).

Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend (22:11).

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense (27:9).

Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s (27:10a).

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend (27:17).

My friends are so precious to me! I cannot imagine life without them. My friends make me a better person. But friendships can get complicated and sometimes friends have to work through difficult situations in order to protect their friendship. Sometimes it takes wisdom to know what to say and how to say it.

King Solomon also warned of the dangers of alcohol, that alcohol is not a friend for the wise.

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise (20:1)

Who has anguish? Who has sorrow?
Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining?
Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
trying out new drinks.
Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.
You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things.
You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast.
And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.
I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?” – Proverbs 23:29-35

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine.
Rulers should not crave alcohol.
For if they drink, they may forget the law
and not give justice to the oppressed (31:4-5).

Justice for the oppressed – this is the third area that King Solomon speaks of. As I read through these proverbs, the issue of abortion comes to my mind.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice (31:8-9).

Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve (24:12).

There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,
a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family (6:16-19).

Father God, we thank you for the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs. Although not the easiest book to read, it is full of treasures to help us through life. Lord, will you please daily give us wisdom and make us stronger and stronger in you. We thank you for our friends and we ask that you bless our friendships. Give us wisdom in the choices we make and stir our hearts towards helping others. We love you! Amen.