Friend of sinners, thank You that You have come near. Thank You for the lengths You went to to call me friend.
Read Proverbs 18:1-24
 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.  Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.  When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach.  The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.  It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.  The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.  The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.  The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.  One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.  The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.  The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.  Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.  To answer before listening- that is folly and shame.  The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?  The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.  A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.  In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.  Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.  A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.  From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.  The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.  The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.  One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat do the proverbs point to as the characteristics of a friend?
The need for human companionship is a theme that runs throughout Scripture from Genesis (“It is not good for the man to be alone,” 2:18), via Ecclesiastes (“Two are better than one,” 4:9), to the vision of “a great multitude” of people in God’s presence (Rev. 7:9). God designed us as social beings. Proverbs, however, provides a reality check. Even with many friends, a spouse included (22), ruin may still come (24). Airing our own opinions, being gossipy, lazy, or proud, and speaking before listening (2,6,8,9,12,13) may create huge barriers to friendship (19). In addition, old age, illness, family breakdown, bereavement, and other factors may rob us of friends. Still, are your friendships in good repair? Do you service them prayerfully or expect others always to take the initiative? Be careful: you may be headed for isolation and loneliness (1). Of course, some friends are incredibly robust (17:17), sticking closer than a brother (18:24). And no friend compares with “the friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34) who, come what may, always sticks by those who follow him (Heb. 13:5).
Make a list of your closest friends. Do they have the characteristics of faithful friends? Are you faithful as well?
Jesus, convict my heart and help me to change, so that I may be a friend who accurately reflects You.
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