Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Proverbs 17:9-10 -- On Friendship and Influence

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool."
Proverbs 17:9-10

I saw one of those memes the other day about how good friends help you hide bodies and, you know, usually I just laugh, but this time for some reason I was struck by how wrong that is. :)  I think we get off track sometimes because we have this societal ideal of friendship, and even romantic love, as perfect, unquestioning loyalty... and it isn't, and *shouldn't* be.  These verses reminded me of that idea in general--how important it is to lift and help each other, and not encourage or protect each other in evil.  We *are* our brothers' keepers. We *need* help to do good and stay on the right track, instead of help getting to hell.  Seriously, no one needs help doing that--it's as easy as falling down, although it hurts more.

As the verse says, we often cover our own transgressions and other people's because we seek love. We don't want people to hate or mock us.  We don't want to be seen as bad or for people to yell at us. And there are some times that it is okay, and probably even better, to just let something go, and save everyone stress and embarrassment.  Of course, if the transgressions are repeated, then we have to address it, and perhaps remove the evil influence, which can be painful.  And of course, if there something really serious going on, such as there being a body involved, a truly good friend helps you do the right thing, not the "loyal" thing.  Hopefully, as we endeavor to be good friends to each other, we can help each other avoid extreme transgression before it happens.

I like the last verse here because I think it shows how we can make a difference.  If we really care about someone's opinion, then what they say can change our lives.  Sometimes God speaks to us through each other, and the spirit delivers a seemingly off-the-cuff, innocuous comment from someone else to us as lightning to the soul.  To be those people though, we have to listen to the spirit and be the "Iron sharpeneth iron" (Proverbs 27:17) type of friends, not the help-bury-bodies sort of friends.  We have to listen to the spirit and say what God wants us to say, not just what will make us more popular and loved, and never using friendship as an excuse for cruelty either.  We don't need to beat people up to help them to be better.  Gentle reproof is better than 100 stripes--physical or otherwise.  Today, let's be wise.  Let's help each other to be better people and to listen to God.  Let's be aware of our influence in other people's lives and try to set a better example.  Let's be Godly friends, and not pressure each other into supporting our sin.

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