S171P9 – The proverbial good friend: given to self-control

Pro. 22:24-25

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

This particular translation of these verses gives us a bit more insight into the kind of person we need to avoid in friendship.  Other translations refer to a man who is angry, which is not incorrect, but this version provides some additional clarity on that anger.  For a person to be given to an emotion means that he or she has surrendered to it enough for it to become habit.  This is a pattern of behavior that develops when someone stops exercising restraint.  It takes no effort or control to become angry.  That is a response rooted in a lack of deliberation and clear thought.  If we think about it, these verses give us a specific principle and a general principle to follow.

The specific principle here is clear.  Those who have decided to settle in their anger and make it part of their lifestyle and personality are people to avoid in friendship.  It is all too easy for that kind of personality to influence others to feed off conflict and controversy; it can be a great temptation.  We want to surround ourselves with people who are more disciplined and controlled because they can help us with our own discipline and control.  This is the general principle here.  There is a benefit of positive influence when we seek friends who produce the spiritual fruit of self-control.  At a minimum, we can trust them to be restrained with us.  Beyond that, we can hope that they will help us produce the same fruit.

If we take this a little further, there is an even more general principle being presented here.  Our desire should be to have close friends who consistently produce good spiritual fruit in addition to self-control.  Seek close relationships with the loving, the kind and the patient.  If you struggle with faith or hope, ask the Lord to bring you friends who can show you what it looks like to produce that fruit consistently.  Steer clear of those who would lead you in old or new bad habits.  Show me the friends a man keeps, and I will tell you about that man.  Father, bring us friends who are led by the Spirit, who can help us walk in self-control and every other spiritual fruit You produce in us.