True Friendship

Proverbs 27:1-22

“Social networking is the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision, if you will. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online.” (

Dr. Albert Mehrabian (Psychology Professor Emeritus, UCLA) on face-to-face communication:

7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.

38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).

55% of meaning is in facial expression.

To be without a friend, marks a state of painful desolation. (Psa 88:18.) On the other hand, a true friend is no common acquisition. (Pro 17:17.) There are many pretensions, many professions, of friendship. But the jewel itself is as rare as it is precious. Yet what is life without this cheering, enriching blessing? Charles Bridges

Friend status on Facebook or MySpace does not constitute the true friendship described in Scripture. Can serve as enhancement or facilitator but personal, breathing-the-same-air contact must be at the core. Elements of true friendship described by Solomon require interaction that cannot occur electronically.

A. sincere v.5

in personal verbal communication, sincerity judged by consonance of elements; conflicting cues undermine credibility

“I love the person too much to tell them that” means:

you don’t understand how Christian love is supposed to operate

– or – what you want to say is not edifying (designed to promote development of Christian character)

better to be told our faults than encouraged in our sin

silence can easily be taken for approval – to say nothing about bad behavior can be more harmful than withholding needed medicine

proper rebuke has the state of both soul and body in view, medicine only the body

rebuke a measure of sincerity

do we value the other’s future good more than their present good will

will we risk temporary displeasure/hard feelings for the sake of their soul, in order to do them a genuine kindness

B. trustworthy v.6

true friends are not suspicious of one another – take what the other has to say at face value without speculating about hidden agenda

trust: that motive behind reproofs is to encourage growth in holiness, not personal advantage

that the operating principle is love

means we need to make sure motives are pure

make sure all three elements communicate same message

that the goal is conformity to God’s standard

not our personal preference or opinion

“speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) is not an excuse for “biblical bullying”, pounding into our mold

end result is that individual “will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head”, that the head will have a fit and properly proportioned body

C. refreshing v.9

perfumed oil (ointment) used to keep skin soft when regular bathing is impractical, provide refreshment after a long journey or hard day’s labor

restful to the body and soothing to the senses

renewing and invigorating, strengthening and restoring

anointing another person is a sign of great love and respect

providing hearty/sincere/earnest counsel

requires time, thought, effort, investment in the individual

shows our respect and their value

counsel can frequently relieve great burdens – see Jethro’s to Moses (Ex. 18:17-24)

burdens can be emotional, spiritual, physical, combination of the above

“outside” perspective often a breath of fresh air, source of light in darkness

D. constant v.10

true friendship that is sincere, trustworthy, refreshing doesn’t happen immediately; requires time and effort to develop – is a long-term investment with no option for short-term bailout

trust, especially on deeply personal level is not quickly earned

once earned should not be treated casually, discarded easily

to abandon friendship shows little respect for what the other person has invested

close and deep friendships often extend to next generation

children can benefit from parents’ friendships

great treasure-store of shared history and understanding that should be honored

blood is not always thicker than water

true friend can be more helpful than family during time of hardship

may have better grasp of immediate circumstances, more closely aligned worldview/priorities

will have desire to be of help

to deny opportunity for friend to aid can be very hurtful, cheat them of blessing

E. considerate v.14

body language counts!

need to show discretion in how we speak to or about a friend

speaking “loudly” can be misunderstood – perceived as self-serving – can also cause embarrassment

how and why of speech is as important as the what

timing is essential

a good deed at the wrong time can be burden instead of blessing

need to consider what friend truly needs most at the time

what they need may not be what we want (impulsively) to give

what we want to give may be vastly more helpful, greater blessing at a different time

F. mutually stimulating v.17

Prov. 18:24” A man who has friends must himself be friendly.”

true friendship is a two-way street with activity in both directions

can be a friend without having a friend in return

in context of true friendship interaction of ideas stimulates thinking

“A man by himself,” says Muffet, “is no man—he is dull, he is very blunt; but if this fellow come and quicken him by his presence, speech, and example, he is so whetted on by this means that he is much more skilful, comfortable, and better than when he was alone.”

if mutual goal is growth in holiness of the other, through interaction of friendship each is encouraged and stimulated

Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Thank God for the blessing of friendship, Christian brothers and sisters whom God uses to bless us in so many ways, to encourage our spiritual growth, lift our spirits, strengthen our faith.


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