Your Friends Reflect Your Faith
INTERESTING FACTS : Francis Scott Key, U. S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; AUTHOR OF THE "STAR SPANGLED BANNER"
"May I always hear that you are following the guidance of that blessed Spirit that will lead you into all truth, leaning on that Almighty arm that has been extended to deliver you, trusting only in the only Savior, and going on in your way to Him rejoicing."
Daily Reading : PROVERBS 22 - 23
TEXT : PROVERBS 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 22:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. 23:3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
THEME : WISDOM
Training is the task of a parent. Advice is not enough. The father and mother must teach the child - by example, how to make good or rather - God pleasing choices. This is done by training. It is an arduous task, one that takes many years. To train is teach teach someone "how" to do something, and inisist they perform the duty or lesson assigned. For instance, if you went for music lessons, what good is it if you understood what the teacher taught and explained unless you go home and practice your instrument? This is training. It is more than hearing a lesson and understanding it. It is becoming proficient at playing it. Thus, the Scriptures lay emphasis on "doing."
Jas_1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Notice here the word "deceiving." It is attached to the concept of ["merely"] hearing as opposed to practice. One is intellectual [hearing] the other is practical [doing]. The Word of God is emphatic - to hear and not do is deception. The person who hears - even the "right things," of the Word of God, but does not practice them and bring his or her to life to line up with the performance of the command, is deceived and without the blessing of God. Notice Jesus' warning.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
"Train up a child in the way he should go - The Hebrew of this clause is curious: חנך לנער על פי דרכו chanoch lannaar al pi darco, "Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path." When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.
חנך chanac, which we translate train up or initiate, signifies also dedicate; and is often used for the consecrating any thing, house, or person, to the service of God. Dedicate, therefore, in the first instance, your child to God; and nurse, teach, and discipline him as God's child, whom he has intrusted to your care. These things observed, and illustrated by your own conduct, the child (you have God's word for it) will never depart from the path of life. Coverdale translates the passage thus: "Yf thou teachest a childe what waye he shoulde go, he shall not leave it when he is olde." Coverdale's Bible, for generally giving the true sense of a passage, and in elegant language for the time, has no equal in any of the translations which have followed since. [Adam Clarke]
Thus, the company you keep is of utmost importance. In any relationship - even the one held by a slender thread, someone is influencing the other. There is of course, mutual influence. However, in most cases one is dominant the other recessive. In particular, the Christian is to be an influence [for good]. However, when caution is not exercised in your choices of friends, companions, etc. you will soon discover changes in your behavior that reflect the works of the flesh rather than the fruit of the spirit. Hence, the exhortation to make no friendship with an angry man. [1Co_15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.]
"A good caution against being intimate with a passionate man. It is the law of friendship that we accommodate ourselves to our friends and be ready to serve them, and therefore we ought to be wise and wary in the choice of a friend, that we come not under the sacred tie to any one whom it would be our folly to accommodate ourselves to. Thought we must be civil to all, yet we must be careful whom we lay in our bosoms and contract a familiarity with. And, among others, a man who is easily provoked, touchy, and apt to resent affronts, who, when he is in a passion, cares not what he says or does, but grows outrageous, such a one is not fit to be made a friend or companion, for he will be ever and anon angry with us and that will be our trouble, and he will expect that we should, like him, be angry with others, and that will be our sin. 2. Good cause given for this caution: Lest thou learn his way. Those we go with we are apt to grow like. Our corrupt hearts have so much tinder in them that it is dangerous conversing with those that throw about the sparks of their passion. We shall thereby get a snare to our souls, for a disposition to anger is a great snare to any man, and an occasion of much sin. He does not say, "Lest thou have ill language given thee or get a broken head," but, which is must worse, "Lest thou imitate him, to humour him, and so contract an ill habit." [Matthew Henry]
"Lest thou learn his ways,.... And be as wrathful and furious, as quarrelsome and contentious, as he is. Evil works and ways are soon learned; men are more ready to imitate what is evil than what is good: Joseph learned to swear in Pharaoh's court; and the Israelites learned the works of the Heathen, among whom they were mingled; "evil communications corrupt good manners", 1Co_15:33. Many men, naturally mild and gentle, tenderhearted and compassionate, by being brought up among or conversing with bloodthirsty Papists, and imbibing their cruel notions and sentiments, have become fierce, and as furious persecutors of others;
and get a snare to thy soul; be drawn into sin, by speaking passionate words, or doing rash actions, which will bring on punishment, either in this world, or in that to come, or in both; which may affect the soul or life here; the taking of it away, or the eternal damnation of the soul hereafter." [John Gill]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "YOUR FRIENDS REFLECT YOUR FAITH!"
Once we know the Word of God, our friends reflect our faith. That is, the ones we choose to be with say something about us. The old saying - "birds of a feather flock together" is true, both in nature and the spirit. Birds of the same genus are seen together. This is the way God made them. Likewise, the company you keep - good or bad, reflects who you are, at least to some degree. No amount of argumentation against the evidence when your friend or friends do not behave according to God's Word will contradict the fact you are with them for a reason. Namely, you - in some way or many ways, are like them. This is the reason that you are taught to not eat with a king and desire his life, wealth, prosperity, or power. It is a deceptive appearance. The world builds a façade of happiness. Christ imparts true peace.
"Be not desirous of his dainties,.... His savoury food, which is very grateful to the taste, his rich provisions and royal dainties; do not lust after them, as the word (s) signifies, in an immoderate way, as the Israelites lusted after the fleshpots in Egypt: these may be lawfully desired, but not sinfully lusted after; and in feeding on them nature may be satisfied, and not the sensual lusts gratified in such a manner they crave, which would be criminal;
for they are deceitful meat; or, "bread of lies" (t): through the pleasant and agreeable taste of them, they lead on to luxury and excess before a man is aware, and so deceive him; they promise him a great deal of pleasure, but, being too much indulged to, they produce sickness and nauseousness. Some think they are called so, from the intention and issue of them; being designed to draw out secrets, which men are very apt to divulge, when they have ate and drank freely. Some apply this to false doctrines, which are framed sometimes in a very plausible manner, and deceive the simple; are bread of lies, lies in hypocrisy, and are very pernicious; such words eat, as do a canker, instead of yielding solid nourishment." [John Gill]
You are continually exhorted not to be like those in the world. The clear teaching and truth of the Bible is this - the wisdom of this world is utter foolishness. On the other hand, the true wisdom and riches of God's Word appears foolish to those in the world. Each is mutually exclusive and rejects the other.
1Co 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 1Co 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1Co 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 1Co 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 1Co 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1Co 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
"Thine own wisdom - From worldly wisdom, which persuades men to use all possible means to get riches." [John Wesley]
Someone may promise you great gain, but whatever is in his or her heart is what they truly think. Yet, how can you know what is in [a] man or woman? You cannot. Not at least, until the net drops on you and you realize you are trapped! God's Book - the Bible, seeks to instruct you to be wise and avoid the pitfalls that flesh and blood dig for you. If you are seeking to be successful, the Word of God gives you wisdom to not be taken captive by the Devil and fulfil his will. This is why the servant of God - the Bible teacher, must be careful not to be argumentative or short-tempered. He must be gentle, hoping those taken by Satanic snares can be set free.
2Ti 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2Ti 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Be sure of this - whatever you truly treasure is in your heart, in the inner man. Only you and God know what that is. However, if you desire Christ, each day of your life, you will display that desire. You have to, for it is in your heart.
Mat_6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. /Mat_12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
"Those that are voluptuous and given to appetite (Pro_23:2) are glad to be where there is good cheer stirring, and those that are covetous and saving, that they may spare at home, will be glad to get a dinner at another man's table; and therefore both are here advised not to be forward to accept of every man's invitation, but especially not to thrust themselves in uninvited. Observe, 1. There are those that pretend to bid their friends welcome that are not hearty and sincere in it. They have a fair tongue, and know what they should say: Eat and drink, saith he, because it is expected that the master of the feast should so compliment his guests; but they have an evil eye, and grudge their guests every bit they eat, especially if the eat freely. They would seem to be liberal in making the entertainment, and would have the credit of it, but they have so great a love to their money, and so little to their friends, that they cannot have the comfort of it, nor any enjoyment of themselves or their friends. The miser's feast is his penance. If a man be so very selfish, and sordid, and mean that he cannot find in his heart to bid his friends welcome to what he has, he ought not to add to that the guilt of dissimulation by inviting them, but let him own himself to be what he is, that the vile person may not be called liberal nor the churl bountiful, Isa_32:5. 2. One can have no comfort in accepting the entertainments that are given grudgingly: "Eat not thou the bread of such a man; let him keep it to himself. Do not sponge upon those that are bountiful, nor make thyself burdensome to any; but especially scorn to be beholden to those that are paltry and not sincere. Better have a dinner of herbs, and true welcome, than dainty meats without it. Therefore," (1.) "Judge of the man as his mind is. Thou thinkest to pay thy respect to him as a friend, so thou takest him to be, because he compliments thee, but as he thinks in his heart so is he, not as he speaks with his tongue." We are that really, both to God and man, which we are inwardly; and neither religion nor friendship is worth any thing further than as it is sincere. (2.) "Judge of the meat as the digestion is and as it agrees with thee. He bids thee eat freely, but, first or last, he will discover his sordid covetous humour, and as he thinks in his heart so will he look, and give thee to understand that thou art not welcome, and then the morsel thou hast eaten thou shalt vomit up; the very thought of that will make thee even to vomit the meat thou hast eaten, and eat the words thou has spoken in returning his compliments and giving him thanks for his civilities. Thou shalt lose thy sweet words, which he has given thee and thou has given him." [Matthew Henry]
Do not envy those without Christ. They have nothing to offer you. More than that, they will lead you astray. The deceptive appearance of peace, love, joy etc. presented by the world will take some away from Christ. Christ's way - the way of the cross, is not appealing. At least, it is not as appealing as what the world offers in the form of the lusts of the flesh. Yet, in the end, the ways of the world are the ways of death, while the way of Christ is peace and everlasting life.
This leading astray is accomplished by friends. Of course, it could be anybody - including family. For this reason, there must be a firm resolve in your heart to walk with Christ. Choose your friends carefully, for they will either enhance your walk with Christ and subsequently your love, joy, peace etc. or, they will destroy the good work of God in you. Specifically, if you do not choose your friends carefully, you will sow to your flesh and reap corruption in the form of disappointments, frustrations, anxiety, depression, and so forth. There is no end to the unfruitful and harmful effects sowing to the flesh brings. Remember - "better to be alone than in bad company." Your friends reflect your faith. Choose them wisely. They are having an effect on your life, perhaps permanent affects.
"Let not thine heart envy sinners,.... Their present prosperity and happiness, the pleasure, profit, and honour, they seem to enjoy; all which is but a shadow, fading had temporary; and yet good men are apt to envy it in their hearts, if they do not express it with their lips; and are ready to murmur and think it hard that they should be in straitened circumstances while the wicked are in flourishing ones; and inwardly fret and are uneasy at it, which they should not, Psa_37:1; or do not "emulate" or "imitate" (z) them, or do as they do, thinking thereby to enjoy the same prosperity and happiness; choose not their ways, nor desire to be with them, to have their company, or be ranked among them, Pro_3:31;
but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long; let the fear of God be always before thine eyes and in thine heart; be continually in the exercise of fear, which is attended with faith and trust in the Lord; with love and affection to him, and joy and delight in him; be constantly employed in the duties of religion, private and public, which the fear of God includes; and this will be a preservative from envying, murmuring, and fretting at the outward happiness of wicked men; and from joining with them in their evil ways. Aben Ezra, and who is followed by some others, render it, "but emulate or imitate the men that fear the Lord all the day long" (a); be followers of them, and do as they do; let their constant piety and devotion stir up a holy emulation in thee to copy after them and exceed them; but the former sense is best." [John Gill]