Friday, July 14, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 51, True Friendship

The king provides us with several proverbs about foolish people, then he provides us with an example of real friendship.

"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly." (Proverbs 17:12) As dangerous as a mama bear is, a person who is morally and spiritually reprobate is even more dangerous. Solomon says, "Stay out of that person's way, just as you would stay out of the way of a wild animal. At least all a mama bear can do is kill you, but an ungodly person will lead you into sin that can take both your life and your soul."

"Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good." (Proverbs 17:13) This is like the saying, "What goes around comes around". Evildoers attract evil to themselves. The one who is always up to no good will someday have his actions boomerang back on him.

"Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." (Proverbs 17:14) A hole in a dam will probably start out small, but it will grow bigger and bigger. The same is true of quarrels. They have a way of growing. Sometimes they grow into feuds that end up being lifelong. Friends and family members end up going to their graves without ever speaking to each other again.

"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent---the Lord detests them both." (Proverbs 17:15) I've never followed but a couple of famous trials on TV, but in both those cases I thought the people on trial were guilty. I couldn't believe my ears when the juries came back with a "not guilty" verdict. Of course, in my case I couldn't be 100% certain they were guilty because I wasn't there when the crimes were committed. But Solomon says God knows the truth and He hates it when there is a miscarriage of justice. In our world it's easier to be acquitted if you're wealthy or famous or good-looking. It's easier to be found guilty if you're too poor to hire a team of hotshot lawyers or if you're not educated enough to know your rights. The Lord, as a righteous Judge, hates injustice.

"Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?" (Proverbs 17:16) The king is saying something like, "No amount of money can buy godly wisdom. You can send an ungodly person to the finest Christian college in the country, but he lacks the desire to learn of the Lord. He's incapable of understanding God's word because he doesn't want to understand it. It's a waste to try and teach anything to someone with a prideful and wicked personality."

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." (Proverbs 17:17) In troubled times we soon find out who our real friends are. We learn which family members can be counted on. A real friend will love us at all times, even when times aren't good. They won't suddenly disappear when we're going through tough circumstances. A family member who steps up and helps out when we need it is like a brother or sister to us, even though they may be a distant cousin or only related to us by marriage. Love is what makes a true friend or a true brother or sister.

Solomon will say in Chapter 18 that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We couldn't choose what family we were born into, and we may have relatives who would never dream of lifting a finger to help us. On the other hand, we can choose our close friends. I have friends I think of as family, don't you? These are people we know we can count on. We can talk to them when we're feeling down. They help us pray about things that concern us. They encourage us in the faith and help us to be better Christians. I consider friends like that to be my brothers and sisters.

The verse about the friend who sticks closer than a brother is often applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves us more than any earthly family member or friend ever could. There is no limit to what He will do for us. He stepped in when we were lost in sin to do for us what no one else could do. We are now related to Him by blood, by His blood, and are the sons and daughters of the living God. "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters." (Hebrews 2:11) Just think of that! Jesus calls me His sister! He's not ashamed of me. He was willing to do anything it took to save me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He's a friend who will always be by my side.

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