The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 4 - “Finding Fantastic Friends”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people which pleased the Lord; we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, and “Mastering Your Mouth.” Today we want to learn about how to find fantastic friends.

What is a friend? Some have said, "A friend will go on liking you, no matter how successful either of you become," and "A friend sees the best in you, even when you're not showing it." One basic human fear we all have is that someday we will be alone and unloved. We all need a few fantastic friends who know us "warts and all" and who love us anyway.

Proverbs has much to say about finding fantastic friends and we want to look at several things from this great book of wisdom. First of all,

#1) Don't choose foolish friends

Few things in life will determine what kind of people we will become as the friends we choose.

Proverbs 13:20says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Who is a fool? Jesus tells us about one kind of fool in the parable of a rich farmer whose fields produced so bountifully he had to build new barns to store his harvest. The farmer then says to himself, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” (Luke 12:19)

Jesus answers him in Luke 12:20 and says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” A fool is anyone who doesn't put God first in his or her life or says in their heart there is no God. (Psa. 14:1) We are foolish if we choose friends whose number one priority is anything other than pleasing God. The kind of person you or I will be a year from now will be determined by the books you read and the friends you make.

This is especially important for young people because of the enormous peer pressure they face. They must be taught to choose their friends based on character—not appearance, popularity, or likeability. If you make friends with someone whose morals are lower than yours, most likely they will bring you down to their level. The fact is that people can pull us down morally a lot easier than we can pull them up. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

We said that to find fantastic friends that we must not choose foolish friends,

#2) We Must Choose Fortifying Friends.

This means we must select friends who build us up. Fortifying friends do at least two things for us.

A.   They build us up morally. The true test of a fantastic friendship is "Are you a better person because he or she is your friend?" Proverbs 27:9 says, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.”

Someone has written, "I love you not for what you are but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not because of what you have made of yourself but for what you have made of me." Fantastic friends make us better people because they build us up morally and...

B.   They build us up emotionally. A fantastic friend is a friend, period. An English publication had a contest for the best definition of a friend. Some of the best replies were "one who multiplies joys and divides griefs" and "one who understands our silence." However, the winner was, "A friend is someone who comes in when the whole world has gone out." Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times.”

To find fantastic friends we said that we must not choose foolish friends, we must instead choose fortifying friends and lastly,

#3) How to make Fantastic Friends.

It requires doing at least five things,

A.   Be Cheerful. Being cheerful means that you have the joy of the Lord in your heart and nothing in this world can take that attitude away. When King David sinned with Bathsheba, he did not lose his salvation but he lost the joy of his salvation. He said in Psalm 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.”  A fantastic friend is cheerful.

B.    Be generous with praise. This makes people feel appreciated and brings out the best in them. The world is filled with negative, critical people who are always putting others down. However, as Christians we are not to be like the world. The most important time to praise a person is when they are down. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.” We can focus on people's talents, honesty, loyalty, abilities, and accomplishments, etc. Everybody wants to be appreciated, and if we make people feel appreciated by being generous with our praise, we will have many fantastic friends.

C.   Be Modest. This means "don't toot your own horn," and it is one of the most important principles in making friends. When we "toot our own horns," we give the impression we are insecure, arrogant braggarts. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Some people brag by association, otherwise known as "name dropping." They try to impress us with the famous people they know or successful people with whom they are associated in business, etc. They also brag about where they have been or what they have accomplished. Everyone despises people who "toot their own horns." Being modest means we talk about others rather than ourselves. We do this by asking questions about their work, background, family, hobbies, etc. When we ask people about themselves, they get to do the talking. No one likes a chatterbox who does all the talking and tries to impress. Just get people to talk about themselves and be a good listener, and they will think you are a brilliant, nice, secure person. Talk about yourself, and they will think the opposite.

D.   Be real. This means be honest about your weaknesses, fears, and mistakes. Drop your guard, and be transparent. Paul had many fantastic friends and one reason was his honesty about himself. He didn't try to act like a "super" Christian who never wavered in his faith. In 1 Corinthians 2:3 Paul says, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” I'm going to tell you something that may shock you: everyone already knows you're not perfect! So, why pretend? No one is great at everything

E.    Be faithful in Bible study. There is no better place to find fantastic friends than a Bible study or in Sunday school. You get to know people in a small group much easier than in a large group, like a worship service. Also, research has shown that if you don't get involved in a small group Bible study, you are likely to drop out of church within two years. Why? You didn't make any really good friends. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Rubbing a piece of iron against another piece of iron sharpens it. In the same way, a good Christian friend can help us "sharpen" our spiritual skills in Bible study, prayer, finding our spiritual gifts, etc. To find fantastic friends, be cheerful, be generous with praise, be modest, be real, and be faithful in Bible study. Which one of these areas needs the most attention in your life and what will you do about it beginning today?

Next Lesson  —>