Lesson 11

A Friend for All Seasons

(Proverbs 13, 18, 24, 27)
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Introduction: Do you have friends? If so, do you want or need more friends? Is it possible you need replacements for your current friends? How do you stack up as a friend? Do you need remedial work in the friendship department? Let's dive in and find out what King Solomon teaches us about choosing our friends and being a friend.

  1. The Importance of Friends.


    1. How important are friends to your life?


      1. What purpose do friends have? Why do you want any?


      2. How do you feel when your friends are not very friendly?


    2. Let's look at Genesis 2:18. What reason did God give for providing a spouse for Adam?


      1. If you have a spouse, do you need friends?


      2. Do you hold your friends closer than your spouse by criticizing your spouse to your friends?


    3. Read Proverbs 27:9-11. As you look at these verses, in what circumstances does Solomon suggest a friend should be useful? (Good counsel, help in time of disaster, support when others treat you with contempt.)


      1. How do you stack up as a friend? Do you give this kind of support to your friends?


      2. How do your friends stack up? Do your friends give you this kind of support?


      3. Why is (v.10) a "friend of your father" worthy of support?


      4. Why does Solomon advise us (v.10) not to go to family for help when disaster strikes? Compare Paul's advice in 1 Timothy 5:4. Paul tells us that we have an obligation to help our parents and grandparents.


        1. Does this mean we are obliged to help those who raised us but not our siblings? (If you look at Proverbs 27:10 it refers to the practical matter of distance. In this case the brother is far away and the friend is near.)


    4. Read Proverbs 18:24. Once again we have a comparison between friends and family. What is the difference between a companion and a friend according to this text?


      1. Why might many companions ruin you? (I don't think it is the number that is the problem, the problem is that they are mere companions and not real friends. They won't feel obligated to help in time of trouble.)


      2. If you have the King James version of this text you will find what is undoubtedly the truth (if you want to have friends you need to be friendly), but is unlikely the proper translation of the Hebrew.


      3. Do you have a friend that is closer than your brother or sister? How did you come by that friend?


        1. Notice the text says "a friend" that sticks closer than a brother. How many friends do you have that are closer than your siblings? (A friend that close would seem rare.)


  2. The Criteria For Friends


    1. Read Proverbs 13:19-21. On what basis should we choose our friends? Why? (Chose wise friends instead of fools because your friends affect your life!)


      1. Why are fools bad friends? (Verse 19: they want to continue in evil.)


      2. Why are wise individuals good for friends? (These three verses together suggest that the wise will have their desires fulfilled and will be prosperous.)


      3. How does the fact that your wise friends have their desires fulfilled help you? (We are influenced by our friends. If they are wise, we are more likely to be wise.)


    2. Read Proverbs 24:1-6. Are these six verses related or unrelated in your opinion?


      1. Is life like building a house or waging a war?


        1. If you say, "yes," tell me why?(All of a productive life is like a project. You are building, accomplishing, moving forward towards goals.)


        2. What do you need to accomplish your life goals according to these verses? (Verse 6 says we need many advisers to wage a victorious "war." Verse 5 suggests these advisers be men of wisdom and knowledge (the righteous). Verses 1 and 2 tell us we should not get our advice from wicked men.)


          1. Why would anyone be tempted to get advice from a wicked person? (Verse 1 tells us envy could motivate us.)


    3. Read Proverbs 27:6&17. Will we always like the advice of our friends? Will we always instantly agree a wise friend's advice is a good idea? What word pictures do these verses paint? (These verses suggest that we will sometimes get good advice we don't particularly like from our friends. The word picture is "wounds" and getting hit with steel!)


    4. This brings us back to the first text from Proverbs we looked at in this lesson: Proverbs 27:9. It tells us that the pleasantness of our friends springs from their earnest counsel.


      1. How can this be considered pleasant when we just learned it was like getting wounded or hit with steel?


      2. Can you see now how having the right friends, getting the right advice and influence, is critical to the success of our lives?


  3. Friendship Evangelism


    1. We have discussed the importance of having the right friends. How should we relate to those people who are not righteous? Should we keep ourselves separate from them? How should we relate to them?


    2. Read Proverbs 25:20-22. What do these texts teach us about relating to the unrighteous?


      1. Why no singing? What, exactly, do you think this "no singing" reference means? (Taken together, I think these texts teach us to give practical help to the unrighteous who are in need and to be very careful about how we present the gospel to them. The practical help, more than the talk, will help to bring them around.)


  4. Friendship to the Needy


    1. Read Proverbs 21:13. Does this text suggest how we should help the poor, or simply tell us to help them?


      1. Are we helping the poor by simply giving them handouts? Read Proverbs 10:4. What does this suggest is the way out of poverty?


        1. Is poverty always the result of laziness? (Read Proverbs 13:23)


          1. How can we discern between those who are poor because of injustice and those who are just lazy?


    2. Read Proverbs 19:17; 22:9; 28:27. How important is kindness to the poor?


    3. What does the Old Testament concept of gleaning teach us about how to treat the poor? See Ruth 2:7.


      1. Was gleaning a hand out? Was it hard work?


    4. What does Paul teach us in the New Testament about aid to the poor? While it is worthwhile to read all of 1 Timothy 5:3-16, look particularly at verses 3, 7, 9-11, 13.


      1. After considering this text, do you think Paul would approve of handing out money or food to people indiscriminately? Or giving out food just because they were poor?


      2. Can we harm someone by just giving them money or food? When Paul says (v.7) to give instructions on these matters so that no one can be open to blame, is he suggesting that we can be "blamed" if we mis-handle our charity? Can the way we help someone else ever be a sin?


      3. How can we implement the "gleaning" idea for the poor around us?


    5. Friend, God tells us our friends are important. He calls on us to choose our friends carefully. Part of being a friend is to help others. God places a responsibility on us to answer the cry of the poor, but He instructs us to be wise in the way we answer that cry. Will you take the time to be sure you are promoting good friendships and properly helping those in need?


  5. Next Week: Drink From Your Own Spring

Discussion

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