24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
and get yourself ensnared.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
What is a true friend? What does that mean in the Biblical sense? One of today’s passages clearly tells us what it does not mean. A true friend is not someone who consistently gets angry quickly all of the time. We also find that we should not have friends who are unreliable.
Unreliable. . .what does that mean? Does that mean if your friend is consistently late and they show up at your house 15 minutes late for the 20th time in a row, then they shouldn’t be your friend? Does that mean that your friend who has to keep re-scheduling time to be with you shouldn’t be your friend? This probably wasn’t what Solomon, the wisest man to walk the Earth, meant by an unreliable friend. In this case, Solomon is likely referring to someone who is not dependable in almost any situation; someone who is likely to mislead you consistently.
Why should it matter if your friends are consistent, unyielding, and ultimately, reliable? It’s interesting that we later see Solomon write about how a person can be picked up by their friend when they fall down, as if he had some personal experience about this type of friendship in his life. If we put the puzzle pieces together that Solomon gives us, friends who are unreliable won’t be there to pick you up off of the ground when you need it most. They will disappear, leave you behind, and perhaps worst of all; stop loving you as if you were never their friend. They fail the second greatest commandment given from Jesus to love one another, which we talked about in yesterday’s devotion.
Have you ever had a friend like that? Someone you thought would always be there for you, but then they didn’t show up when you needed them the most? Or, have you had a friend who left you behind disconnecting himself/herself from you as if they had nothing to do with you and wanted nothing to do with you? Worse yet, have you been this type of friend to someone else? I ask myself all of these same questions. Solomon warns us against these types of people. He warns us that if these types of people are considered our friends; the ones we rely on for support, then you will soon come to ruin. Have you been there? Have you fallen on the ground thinking a friend will be there to lift you up, only to find they want nothing to do with you? Have you thought a friend was “closer than a brother” only to find them “unreliable”? Solomon knew that these types of friends cause deep wounds in our hearts and souls; thus, he warns against them.
I was recently talking to a good friend about when friends fail to love us through our failures in life. That is a very large and long struggle to deal with. When we fail, when we sin (and we ultimately all do), it gives us an opportunity to find out who our true friends really are. The friends that leave you are not true friends, but those that stick “closer than a brother” is a Biblical true friend. These are the friends who are walking in the light following God’s two most important commandments as we talked about yesterday. I don’t know about you, but I have a very small handful of these people in my life. One is my wife, who never leaves my side no matter what happens. The others are people who see my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my failings, the times when I fall, and yet, they are still there on the other side waiting to help pick me up off of the ground. One of my best and closest dear friends told me that our friendship is “perfectly unperfect.” She didn’t know it at the time, but she was citing Solomon’s wisdom and simply summarizing it in two short words. This is what she was saying: “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” When either of us falls (and we inevitably do), we help each other up as our friendship is “perfectly unperfect.”
As you think about your friends today, keep close the reliable friends; the ones who are “closer than a brother.” Send them a text, send them an email, write on their Facebook Timeline, give them a shout out on Twitter; remind them you love them, and you are there to pick them up when the other falls down.