By Heather Adams, Crosswalk.com
“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior…” (Proverbs 1:1-3).
The Bible is full of good instruction for us. But the book of Proverbs holds a unique place as a kind of manual for how to live rightly. And oftentimes, God uses those short sayings to shape our character.
The authors offer insights on all sorts of important topics in daily life like money, business and social justice. And one of the ways that Proverbs has impacted me the most is in the area of relationships. The guidance I’ve gotten there has helped me to not only be a better friend, but to seek out friendships that will be better for me.
About the Book of Proverbs
This book is one of three that was written and/or compiled by King Solomon. It is believed he put it together early on in his reign, as a teaching tool for the people of Israel. It contains a variety of literary forms and devices, such as poems and pointed questions, comparison and personification.
Solomon’s goal was for the Israelites to become more ethical and disciplined. These short sayings were meant to be illustrations of what a Godly life looked like. And while our culture may be different today, the principles are still relevant.
Reading Proverbs used to only remind me how short I fall of the ideal. But I’ve come to appreciate the nuggets of wisdom in them, and I see how practical they are for my daily life.
Why the Proverbs Are Good for Friendships
Our desire for friendship is one that God placed in each of us. Relationships are vitally important to Him - one of His names is our Heavenly Father. And Jesus Himself said something about this that should excite us:
“‘I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you’” (John 15:15).
Part of Jesus’ mission on Earth was to be an example for us of how to live. As He went, He modeled what good friendship looks like. His words and actions were based on Old Testament principles. And if we study and apply the advice in books like Proverbs, we will grow more like Him in this area, too.
Proverbs for Healing Hurt Between Friends
Disagreements can cause all sorts of upset between people and even end up pulling them apart.
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
The first step to reconciliation is to admit that your words or actions might have added to the situation.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Proverbs for Building Strong Friendships
Having respect for each other and keeping confidences are two ways to construct a strong foundation of friendship.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).
Another way to show ourselves as authentic friends is to be straightforward and honest, speaking our words with love.
“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Proverbs 24:26).
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Proverbs for Being a Loving/Good Friend
The difference between being an acquaintance and a real friend is whether we walk with someone through difficult times as well as good.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
One of the qualities we need to show as a good friend is humility. If our opinion differs from theirs, or there is an issue to address, we can approach someone with grace and seek their good.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Proverbs for Making New Friends
Some good advice about making new friends is to seek to become a good friend to others. This will always set us on the right path.
“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor” (Proverbs 21:21).
And when we are known as caring and good people, we’ll tend to meet others who value and share those traits.
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).
Proverbs for Perseverance in Friendships
In our world today, there are multiple ways we can keep in touch with our friends. But many of us are busier than ever, which can distract us from nurturing those relationships. It’s so important that we deliberately devote time and energy to friendships we value.
“Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Proverbs for Helping Friends Grow in Christ
The beauty of having friends who are believers is that we can help each other mature in our faith.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
To be the kind of friend who helps our brothers and sisters grow, we must have a knowledge of God’s Word, and the willingness to share it. And any advice we give should echo what we’ve learned and experienced of God.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice” (Proverbs 27:9).
Proverbs for Choosing Friends Well
In this book of wisdom, we find insights to guide us in being more Godly friends, and also in being careful to find others who share the same perspective. And some sayings plainly warn us of the results when we don’t use good judgment.
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25).
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
“Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble” (Proverbs 25:19).
Proverbs may come across as just a book of rules, but it is actually a loving gift that God has given us. For within the pages, He tells us how to not only become our best selves, but find much more joy in life.
If we put these ideas about friendships into practice, we’ll find that our connections will be more meaningful. Our time together, though never perfect, will reflect more of Christ. And that will bless all of us.
“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend” (Proverbs 22:11).
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Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby! You can connect with her on her website: heatheradamsworshipwalk.com